When my sister and I were little, my mother would often make jam tartlets with us, using her collection of tiny stainless steel tart molds -- in diamond, oval, triangle shapes. For this challenge against Amanda, I decided to create a hybrid of these jam tartlets and the classic fresh fruit tarts you see at good French patisseries (and which I made countless times at culinary school). I incorporated some ground almonds into the crust and Instead of pastry cream, which would have been too sweet with the jam, I dolloped on some mascarpone, and finished the peaches with a light glaze, all French-like. —Merrill Stubbs
8 to 12 tartlets
The tartlet shells
cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Pulse the almonds in the bowl of a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs (careful not to over-grind, or you'll end up with almond butter).
Add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of small peas.
Lightly beat the egg yolks and add to the mixer, pulsing a few times just to combine. As you continue to pulse, gradually add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough just starts to come together. (It should stick when you pinch a bit of it between your fingers.) Do not over-mix!
Remove the dough from the mixer and put it on a lightly floured surface. Pat it gently into a disc, wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. **Alternatively, you can press the just-mixed dough into the tart tins at this stage and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Heat the oven to 350F. Roll the dough between two floured pieces of plastic wrap until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Put your tartlet tins upside down on top of the dough and cut shapes around them, leaving about half an inch on all sides. Press the dough pieces gently into the tins and level the tops with a rolling pin, removing any excess dough from the edges. Dock the tartlets several times with a fork and fill any larger shells with parchment and baking weights. Refrigerate the tartlet shells for at least 20 minutes.
Bake the shells for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden in color, removing the parchment and baking weights about five minutes before the shells are done. Cool on a rack and then turn the shells out of their tins.
The peach tartlets
Put 1/2 cup of the jam in a small heavy saucepan with a tablespoon of water. Warm gently over medium-low heat as you assemble the tartlets.
Spread a small spoonful of jam over the base of each cooled tartlet shell -- you just want a thin coating. Add a dollop of mascarpone to each and spread gently over the jam.
Wash and dry the peaches, and then cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange them prettily among the tart shells, covering the surface of the mascarpone.
Use a pastry brush to glaze the peaches with the thinned jam. Serve immediately!