As we speak, my lucky Daddums is off in search of some winter sun. For three weeks. Lucky bugger. Before he left, he came to visit me for a day to do some DIY (remember the kitchen he built for me?). Whilst I was completely stuck for inspiration as to what to make him for a main course that night, I knew which pud I was going to try out on him. (The main was steak and ale pie with mushrooms, braised and spiced red cabbage, cauliflower cheese and mash potato. And we’ve only just finished the leftovers! I do tend to overcater 😉 ). Now, my dad is lovely to feed – he will eat anything and there is very little he doesn’t like (strangely, salmon is top of the dislike list – bizarre from a man who recently ate zebra at an African restaurant!). He loves his food, he’s dangerous to leave alone with a block of cheese and in days gone by, he’s been known to eat a half tub of ice cream at the dinner table, with non-family dinner guests looking on aghast, from the tub. When it comes to sweet stuff, the apple did not fall far from the tree – he loves a sweet treat be it a toasted scone at weekend brunches, a slab of rich fruit cake in his lunch box when he’s busy doing his carpenter thing, or a nibble from his not-so-secret “man tin” which I try to keep filled with shortbread for him. He’s a naughty one! So I knew the combination of pear, chocolate and almond would be met with as much enthusiasm to eat as I had to make it….
Sweet shortcrust chocolate pastry is a little tricky as it crumbles easily due to the sugar and cocoa so it is best rolled out between two sheets of cling film. It’s worth using the best quality cocoa you have as you want a strong flavour to pair against the frangipane we’re filling the pastry with. Luckily a lovely friend recently sent me this Art Deco style tin of real Dutch cocoa and I save it for special occasions such as these. Making it in a food processor definitely helps although it just means you’ll probably need to chill it longer if made manually as your hands will warm the soft tender pastry dough up more than the steal blade of the food processor.
I find transferring the pastry on one of the layers of cling easy and as this chocolate one is so short, you can patch up easily without affecting the texture of the dough. Using a spoon handle to give indents before filling both serves to make it pretty and to get the bubbles out so you don’t get any “blows” upon baking as we aren’t blind baking. Fill with a sweet, buttery almond frangipane and poking in some juicy pear halves. The contrast from a bitter cocoa base to the sweet melting middle with the nursery sweetness of the fruit is just the thing for homely family dessert.
Having been weaned on whizzed up tin pears and double cream I have more sort of intrinsic warm fuzzy sensation inside when I eat desserts with pears in. They just fill me with comfort, even eating straight from the tin with a little of the juice, never syrup they come in. Pair the pear with chocolate and you have a winning classic combination everytime – the almond bridging the gap betwixt the two perfectly. I’m a little proud of this recipe!
An elegant dessert indeed when served in a long thin tin like this lovely one I have, it would be fitting of dinner parties this festive season. You could dust with icing sugar but the extra sweetness is not required. A little cocoa cloud though, that might be good if you feel this tart is unfinished as it stands. I myself had been christening our new home with the bottle of Lanson Daddums brought and quite frankly, it was hard enough aiming the camera with accuracy at this point, let alone artfully dusting with cocoa 😉
If you happen to be lucky enough to have perfectly ripe pears on hand then by all means, peel, core and halve them instead but I really find a fresh pear to have that melting texture the tinned variety do so feel no shame in recommending them here. If it is good enough for La Lawson in her deeply delicious chocolate pear pudding then it is good enough for me and my tart. That being one of Hungry Hubby’s and Daddums favourite hot puddings too. My cupboard is never bereft of tinned tomatoes nor tinned pears!
- 100g soft butter
- 150g self-raising flour
- 25g cocoa powder
- 2 level tbsp caster sugar
- 1 large egg beaten
- 2 large tins of pears, drained (one to fill the tart with, one to serve alongside it)
- 125g soft butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- First make the pastry, which can be done a day in advance and left in the fridge wrapped well in cling film.
- If making in the food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and cocoa to combine then add the butter in small cubes, pulsing to incorporate to rubbly pieces.
- Next, pulse in as much of the beaten egg as you need to make a dough – stop short of making a ball of dough then wrap in clingfilm and bring together by hand. (If making by hand, sift the flour and cocoa together, rub in the butter, stir in the sugar and bring together with the egg. Rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes.)
- When chilled roll thinly (around 3mm thick) into a rectangle big enough to line your tin (I used a 14 by 5 inch rectangular, loose bottomed tin – you may use a 20-22cm loose bottomed round tin instead) between two pieces of cling film.
- Remove the top layer then line your tin with the pastry, pushing into the grooves well. Cut off the excess with your thumb leaving the clingfilm in situ then chilling again whilst you make the frangipane for the filling.
- Beat your butter until soft then cream in the sugar, followed with the ground almonds, extracts, eggs then gently incorporate the flour.
- Remove the clingfilm from the pastry base and spread with the frangipane so that it’s has a level surface. Gently press in the pear halves cut side down however you wish – I alternated them to get about 6 halves into my tin.
- Bake in a preheated oven no higher than on the middle shelf for approx 30 mins at 180°C – not the frangipane colours easily so do watch that it isn’t catching and cover loosely with foil if required; also every oven is different – start checking at 25 minutes (be prepared to go upto 45 minutes if not fully cooked).
- Cool on a rack to room temperature before attempting to unmould it and serving in slices with extra pears and the thickest, creamiest, coldest cream you can find.
- This works beautifully using Juvela gluten free White Mix (it's expensive but is available on prescription for Coeliacs in the UK).