Chestnuts were once a staple of the Italian diet - ground into flour to make bread - and festivals still commemorate their role in sustaining country folk during lean times. Here, they lend a nutty flavour to pear tarts.
- 150 g (1 cup) each plain and chestnut flours
- 55 g (⅓ cup) pure icing sugar
- 125 g unsalted butter, chopped
- 1 egg yolk
Chocolate chestnut frangipane
- 160 g unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
- 165 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
- 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
- 150 g (1 cup) chestnut flour (see Note), sifted
- 100 g dark chocolate, grated
- 70 g (½ cup) roasted slivered almonds
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 4 beurre bosc pears, thinly sliced
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.
Chilling time 20 minutes
Drink match Castellani Solo Arte Vino Dei Santi NV, Tuscany, Italy (500 ml, $15) – almond and dried fruit-infused dessert wine made from Trebbiano Toscana and Malvasia grapes.
Combine flours, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and 2 tbsp cold water, pulsing until dough just comes together. Shape into 6 discs, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven and oven tray to 200 °C. Roll each disc out to a 16 cm round on a lightly floured work surface. Line the base and sides of 6 greased, 11 cm loose-based fluted tart pans with pastry rounds, trimming excess. Place baking paper over each, fill with dried beans or rice and bake for 10 minutes. Remove beans and paper, and bake for a further 5 minutes or until pastry is pale brown.
Meanwhile, to make frangipane, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg and yolk, beating until well combined. Place flour in a large bowl. Fold butter mixture, chocolate and nuts through flour until just combined.
To make caramelised pears, place butter, sugar and pears in a frying pan over medium heat and cook, turning, for 3 minutes or until pears are softened and lightly browned.
Place 3 pear slices in base of each pastry case. Divide frangipane among tarts. Top with remaining pear slices and bake for 25 minutes or until frangipane is just firm. Cool in pans before removing. Serve hot or cold.
• Chestnut flour is available from select delis and specialist food shops.