pear

Conference Pear and Dark Chocolate Tart

This tart is simple but indulgent and marries together an Autumn favourite (pear) with my biggest weakness (chocolate). It makes for a delicious weekend treat served warm with ice cream but would equally round off a dinner party with a topping of lightly whipped Calvados cream; either way you can’t go far wrong with chocolate pastry and almond frangipane studded with ripe pears and oozing dark chocolate…

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 140g cold cubed butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2tbsp cold water

For the filling:

  • 5 eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 pears, sliced
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

To finish:

  • 3tbsp honey
  • 50g dark chocolate

Method

  1. Start off with the pastry. Place the flour, cocoa, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and blitz until it takes on the texture of coarse breadcrumbs (you could also do this by rubbing these ingredients between your fingers then stirring in the egg and water with a cutlery knife). Add the egg yolks and water and pulse. Stop when the crumbs start to clump together to form large lumps of pastry then tip out, push together and shape into a disc. Wrap in cling film and chill for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Lightly grease a 22x22cm loose bottom tart tin with butter. Take your pastry and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick. Line the tart case, pushing the pastry into the corners with a smaller lump of dough. Trim the edges and return to the fridge to chill for a further 15 minutes.
  3. Once your pastry is firm, line with baking paper and baking beans and bake for 10-15 minutes until the sides are set. Remove the paper and beans and prick the base all over with a fork then bake for another 10 minutes or until the base is cooked through and has a sandy texture with no damp areas.
  4. While the pastry is cooking make the filling. To do this simply place the eggs, caster sugar, ground almonds and vanilla in a food processor and whizz up until well combined (or beat together with a wooden spoon).
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 140c. Pour half the almond filling into the cooked pastry case and then sprinkle over the broken up chocolate. Add the remaining filling, level out, then arrange your pear slices all over the surface. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the filling is golden and well risen.
  6. When your tart is ready, heat the honey a little and brush all over the surface to create a shine. Melt the dark chocolate (either in a ban marie or in the microwave) and flick across the top as desired to finish it off.

Slice up and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or Calvados cream.

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Plated Pear, Ginger and Chocolate Dessert

I’ve recently been working on a few new recipes for a sort of ‘food portfolio’. This particular dessert is one I’m really pleased with so I thought I would share! It is made up of poached pear, a pear crisp, stem ginger ice cream, ginger caramel, vanilla tuille shards, caramelised white chocolate and dark chocolate ganache cubes (yes, quite a few elements but if you’re up for the challenge it makes for an impressive and delicious dish!).

dessert

Serves 4 (note, the ice cream is best made the day before you are serving this dish)

For the stem ginger ice cream: 100ml double cream, 100ml whole milk, 70g caster sugar, 4 egg yolks, 4tbsp chopped stem ginger

Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan until a skin forms then set aside. In a bowl mix the egg yolks and caster sugar then pour the cream mix over the top. Stir together, rinse the saucepan and return the liquid to it. Place over a gentle heat and stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens to coat the back. Set aside to cool a little then add the chopped stem ginger and pour into a freezer proof tub. Freeze overnight.

The next morning, chop the ice cream into large pieces and blitz in a food processor until they just break down (blitzing means your ice cream will be smooth without using an ice cream maker!). Return to the container and re-freeze until needed.

For the pear crisp: 1 pear

Very thinly slice your pear so you are left with cross section pieces. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for half an hour at 140c, turning occasionally. Once dried out, leave to harden at room temperature.

For the ganache cubes: 100g dark chocolate, 75ml double cream

Finely chop or grate the chocolate. Heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Stir to melt it fully then pour into a shallow mould and set in the freezer for 20 minutes- half an hour. When ready to use, slice into cubes.

For the caramelised white chocolate: 50g white chocolate

This chocolate is delicious- it takes the sweetness off the white chocolate and gives it a smokey, almost bitter taste. Simply place in the oven and colour for 10 minutes at 180c. When needed, break down into a crumb and use as desired.

For the poached pear: 1 pint water, 100g caster sugar, 1 vanilla pod, 3 pears

Dissolve the sugar in the water with the vanilla over a gentle heat. Peel the pears. Add the pears to the sugar syrup and poach gently for 30-40 minutes. When soft and cooked through, slice into cubes (the same size as the ganache).

For the ginger caramel: 100g granulated sugar, 50ml water, 30g butter, 50ml double cream, 2tbsp ginger syrup, pinch salt

Dissolve the sugar with the water over a gentle heat. Once dissolved, boil vigorously until it reaches a deep golden colour. Add the butter at this stage and mix in (it will spit a little) then add the cream and return to the heat. Stir until thick then remove from the heat, add the ginger syrup and salt and leave to cool.

For the vanilla tuille shards: 60g butter, 60g plain flour, 2 egg whites, 120g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 190c. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.

Take a silicon mat or silicon paper lined baking tray and spread the mixture thinly over it with a palette knife. Bake for 5 minutes or until the edges are golden then leave to harden at room temperature. Once set break up into pieces and use.

desert 2

To assemble: 

To assemble this dessert spread your caramel in a swoosh and sprinkle your white chocolate crumb over it in a half moon shape. Take a scoop or quenelle of your ice cream and place on top. Balance the pear crisp on the ice cream then arrange the ganache and pear cubes in an attractive pattern. Use the tuille shards for garnish and finish it off with edible flowers, if you like.

Enjoy!