I love this not-too-sweet combination. You can break up the steps and make the biscuits and caramel in advance. The caramel should be taken to a handsome deep-cognac colour and you can test when it is ready by putting a drop on a white surface. If it looks too light, carry on cooking but take care as it can burn in a second. This makes eight whispers of a dessert — you may hardly realise you’ve had dessert.
To make the pastry, cut up the butter into a bowl, then add the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt and crumble with your fingers to make crumbs. Don’t overwork the mixture or it will compromise the biscuit texture. Keep the movements of your fingers light and quick. Work in the water to form a soft dough. Gather it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
For the caramel sauce, gently heat the butter, vanilla and sugar together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until melted. Continue cooking over low heat until it is a good amber colour. Meanwhile, heat the cream in a separate small saucepan. When the caramel is a good colour, carefully whisk in the cream, bit by bit. It will bubble up so take care. Continue cooking for a minute or so more to ensure that it is smooth and there are no lumps. You may need to give it a good whisk to make it smooth again.
If the caramel gets too dark at any point, plunge the pan into a bowl of cold water to stop it cooking further. Whisk as it cools. Keep, covered, until ready to use. It will be nice and thick, and will cling to your pastry discs.
Take quite a heaped teaspoon of caramel and edge it off onto a pastry disc using another teaspoon. It will spread a bit and settle in. Using the same teaspoon technique, edge a teaspoon or so of crème fraîche over the middle of the caramel and pat out a bit with the spoon to distribute evenly. Set 3 or 4 raspberries on top so it looks a bit queen of heart-ish, and put a couple of raspberries on the side. Continue with the other plates in the same way. Shake a little icing sugar over each. You can then turn the raspberries over to see their colour. Serve the tarts with a spoon and fork.
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