Makes 6 servings

Credit for using puff pastry in this manner goes to dessert maven Gale Gand, whom I watched make an apple version of this years ago on television. I re-created it the same night, then served it a week later to the delight of my friends. It has been a dinner party staple ever since. Prep: 30 minutes; Chill: 10 minutes; Bake: 32 minutes.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly dust work surface with 3 tablespoons flour; roll out 1 sheet puff pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 6 (4-inch) rounds. Cut additional shapes, such as leaves or stars, from scraps for garnish, if desired. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, and transfer shapes to a second parchment-lined rimmed sheet. Chill 10 minutes or until ready to assemble.

Step 2

Bake rounds at 400° for 7 minutes, and set aside. (Do not prebake additional shapes.) Mix together brown sugar and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Carefully stir in pear slices.

Step 3

Arrange pear slices in concentric circles on rounds. When each round is stacked about 2 inches high, insert 2 presoaked wooden picks into the top of each tartlet to secure slices. Drizzle with any remaining sugar mixture.

Step 4

Bake tartlets and shapes at 400° for 15 minutes or until shapes are puffed and golden brown. Transfer shapes to a cooling rack, and let cool completely. Bake tartlets an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown and slightly caramelized. Transfer tarts to dessert plates. Garnish, if desired, with baked pastry shapes, sweetened whipped cream, and nutmeg. Serve immediately.

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