Saturday, February 7, 2015

Heart Shaped Mini Cakes with Pears, Ricotta Cheese over an Almond Crust

Impress your Valentine with these sweet hearts made with fresh pears and delicate ricotta cheese over a buttery almond crust. 
Made with love!

Love is in the air ... even at the dollar store :-) I was so happy to find there some colorful heart shaped silicone muffin cups.
You know I love silicone baking molds. They are so easy to use and clean, no greasing and no sticking. And even better, a set of four cups for only a dollar. Amazing, right? I had to have them. Obviously. I could not pass on such an unbelievable deal. And of course today I tried them immediately with this delicious recipe, perfect for Valentine's day.
These heart shaped cups have a buttery almond crust on the bottom, a delicate ricotta filling topped with soft and sweet pears. I love the combination of almonds with pears, intensely nutty and perfectly sweet. A match made in heaven.
Here is my step-by-step, simple recipe. A super easy way to  woo your Valentine!


Ingredients: to make 12 hearts (2.5 x 2.5 inches)
for the crust:
  • 4 tablespoons (half stick, 55 gr ) of unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup (100 gr) almond meal
  • 1/4 cup (50 gr) of sugar 
  • pinch of salt
for the filling:
  • 8 oz (225 gr) ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup (65 gr) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon (10 gr) corn starch
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) of pear halves (in natural pear juice, no sugar added), or 2 fresh, ripe pears
Preparation time: about 80 minutes
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or in double boiler if you prefer. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, sugar and salt. Pour the melted butter and mix until combined.

2. Press about one tablespoon of the almond mixture into the bottom of 12 heart shaped silicone muffin cups. Use a spoon or fingers to help pressing down and make a thin flat layer. Bake for 15 minutes.

3. In the meantime, blend all the ingredients for the filling with the exception of the pears, in a large bowl.

4. Pour the ricotta mixture evenly in the 12 cups, which should be filled to about 3/4 of the way.
Cut the pears into really thin slices and decorate with about 4 slices each cup, or as you like!
I used pears in a can because they are softer and will not be crunchy after baking. You can use fresh pears, just make sure they are ripe.




5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until set. Wait until completely cold (and I suggest refrigerate for at least 30 minutes) before removing from the mold, or the bottom crust might break. Store left overs in the refrigerator.
Happy Valentine's Day!






 

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