Maggie Beer shares her recipes for this incredibly dense tart, sinfully rich thanks to the almond meal, cream and poached pears.
- 4 200 g packham pears, peeled
- 140 g caster sugar
- 250 ml Verjuice
- 250 ml water
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- pinch saffron
Chocolate and almond cream
- 90 g unsalted butter, softened
- 110 g caster sugar
- 2 free-range eggs
- 1 free-range egg yolk
- 40 g unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa (dutch process)
- 60 ml Vino Cotto
- 150 g ground almond meal
- 300 g packet Carême dark chocolate shortcrust pastry
- crème fraîche or mascarpone, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time: 10 minutes
1. Pre-heat a fan-forced oven to 200°C (220°C non-fan-forced).
2. To poach the pears, place the peeled pears into a medium sized saucepan so that they fit snuggly, pour over the Verjuice and water, which should just cover the pears, then add the sugar, bay leaves and pinch of saffron. Place over a medium high heat, bring to simmering point then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place a lid on the pot and gently simmer for approximately 40 minutes or until the pears are cooked through. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, increase the heat and bring the Verjuice poaching liquid to the boil and reduce to ½ cup, then remove from the heat and set aside. Once the pears have cooled cut into quarters length ways and set aside. You will only need to 2 pears for this recipe.
3. To make the chocolate and almond cream, place the butter and caster sugar in a food mixer and beat on high until light and creamy (approximately 6 minutes). With the mixer still running, add the eggs and yolk (one at a time), then the cocoa and vino cotto and mix for a further minute. Add the almond meal and mix until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.
4. To finish, grease a flan tin (24 cm x 2½ cm) and line with the pastry. Cut off the excess pastry around the edge but allow the pastry to come above the tin by 5 mm, to allow for shrinkage during blind-baking. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
5. Remove the chilled tart shell from the fridge, spike the bottom with a fork, line the top with non-stick baking paper and place blind-baking beans on top (ordinary dried beans or rice work just as well). Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
6. Remove the tart shell and reduce the oven temperature to 175°C (195°C non-fan-forced).
7. Place a third of the chocolate and almond cream on the base of the tart shell. Top with cooked pear wedges and dot the remaining chocolate and almond cream on top. Return the tart to the oven for 50–60 minutes; this time will depend on your oven, but you need to make sure that the chocolate and almond cream is cooked in the centre.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve with crème fraîche or mascarpone.
• The time taken to poach the pears will vary depending on their size and ripeness.
• If using fresh bayleaves, scrunch before use and use more for better flavour.
• Maggies makes her own almond meal, heat oven to 180ºC, roast almonds on a baking tray, skin on for 10 minutes, cool, then place in a food processor and process until smooth.