If, for whatever reason, you're looking for an alternative to chocolate this weekend, I present you with these adorable butterscotch tarts. What's as romantic as cutting into a molten chocolate cake and watching that gooey chocolate lava pour out? Using your fork or spoon to gently break a crisp, nutty tart shell and seeing creamy butterscotch ooze onto the plate. This is the type of tart I like to make individually-sized since the filling doesn't set up as much as one that has been thickened with cornstarch or gelatin, allowing it to flow more freely since you don't have to worry about cutting into a larger one without it being too messy.
Obviously if you don't have heart-shaped tart pans, just use other sized mini tart pans or even mini cupcake or regular-sized cupcake pans. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides as much as you'd like, then par-bake. Alternatively, this filling would be excellent on its own in pretty glasses with some crispy (preferably nutty) cookies on the side as well.
P.S. the cookies you see in these pictures were leftovers of similarly designed cookies I sent to my Valentine in North Carolina this past week. I used this recipe for the chocolate cookies and added about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, these crunchy almond stars, adding cinnamon and nutmeg as well as the cardamom, and this recipe for butter cookies, which also helped provide me with some egg whites back in the freezer :)
Heart-Shaped Butterscotch Tarts
Adapted liberally from Sugar by Anna Olson
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
About 4-6 tablespoons cold water
Combine the flour, pecans, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles a streusel texture, then add the egg yolk and 4 tablespoons of cold water, stirring until it forms a crumbly dough, adding the other 2 tablespoons of water if necessary.
Take large pieces of dough and press them into the mini tart pans, making sure the dough isn't more than 1/4" thick. Freeze the tart shells until very firm, at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. When the dough is frozen, use pieces of foil to cover each shape, then fill with raw rice or beans and bake until the edges are dry, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and rice or beans, and continue to bake until the entire shell is a light golden brown, another 5-10 minutes depending on how thick your dough is. Let the crusts cool completely, then unmold from the pans.
The dough itself can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated, the dough can be pressed into the pans and frozen up to 2 months, and the baked crusts will keep for a week at cool room temperature.
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar and flour, crushing any large lumps of sugar with a whisk. Stir in the milk and cook on medium-low heat to dissolve the sugar, then add the butter and cook, stirring almost constantly, for about 8 to 10 minutes, letting it boil and thicken. Pour through a strainer into a clean bowl, then add the salt, vanilla and egg yolk, whisking until smooth.
At this point you can pour the filling into the cooled tart shells or refrigerate it up to 3 days. The assembled tarts will keep in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or a day if you don't mind having a slightly non-crisp tart crust.