Buffalo Camembert & Pear Tarts
I had been meaning to make a sweet puff pastry pear tart last month but never got around to it. As the puff pastry was still sitting in my fridge, I wanted to use it up quickly. Yesterday during our after-lunch-walk this vision popped into my head, ingredient by ingredient, until I saw the finished product before me.
It started out with puff pastry and pears, then next came the cheese. A couple of months ago I saw buffalo camembert at the supermarket’s cheese counter. I had a feeling the cheese lady was trying to dissuade me from buying it because she mentioned several times that she hadn’t liked it, it was too savoury for her. I didn’t care, I still wanted to try it. If you haven’t tried buffalo camembert before, the only way I can describe it is this: just as buffalo mozzarella has a slightly more sour taste to it than cow’s milk mozzarella, so does the buffalo camembert. Also, when it ripens it doesn’t just get softer like regular camembert but its insides get almost liquid. I actually like it very much and have been buying it often since I made the discovery.
The rest of the ingredients that floated into my head were: caramelised spring onions (I managed to get the last bunch of red ones at the market yesterday), thyme, walnuts, and probably maple syrup. In the end I mixed the syrup with some melted butter and brushed it over the pears so they wouldn’t dry out, and then again over the walnuts so they wouldn’t burn too much. The thyme I added just before serving.
As my taste buds had anticipated, all the ingredients complement each other, the result has a mild taste to it, and makes for a great lunch. These tarts can be eaten hot, lukewarm or cold, but hot or lukewarm are preferable as the cheese will have melted slightly, which is the whole point of these. Serve with a simple salad, as the tarts shine all by themselves.
I didn’t measure the ingredients this time, I more or less winged it, but just by knowing the size of your tart tins you’ll know how much walnuts, syrup & butter, and thyme you’ll want to use. I also didn’t time the single steps, but I’ll give an approximation in the recipe. How many tarts you get out of the puff pastry depends on the size of your tart tins as well as how much there’s in a pack of puff pastry wherever you live and shop. The German brand roll of pastry I used is 270 g and relatively thin, so no need to roll it out. I got two 10 cm and two 13 cm tarts out of it but had some pastry left over that would have filled another 13 cm tin.
Buffalo Camembert & Pear Tarts
1 roll puff pastry (270 g)
1 buffalo camembert, sliced into 4 layers
1 bunch spring onions (red or white) = 6 onions
1 large pear
raw cane sugar
handful of walnuts, broken into small pieces
4 – 6 stems of thyme
Start by prepping: cut the spring onions into very thin slices [without the greens]. Quarter the pear, remove core and stem, then finely slice each quarter. Pick thyme leaves off the stems.
Caramelise the spring onions in a non-stick pan with ca. 15 g butter and 4 tsp raw cane sugar. Remove from pan and set aside, then melt some more butter in the same pan while it’s hot and pour into a small bowl; add about as much maple syrup as you have butter and whisk together, then put aside.
Heat oven to 200°C / 400°F (fan).
Cut out circles from the puff pastry roll to fit your tart tins. Butter the tins, then line with the pastry and prick the bottoms with a fork. Place a round slice of the camembert onto the pastry, top with caramelised onions, then arrange the pear slices on top. [Mine were too large for the tins, so I cut off the narrower ends.]
Brush the pears with the butter & maple syrup mix, then top with the walnuts and brush these with the butter & maple syrup mix as well. Place tart tins on a baking tray, and bake on middle shelf for 20 minutes.
Serve with a salad.