It’s been a whole year since I started the blog, and what a wonderful ride it has been! I’ve met wonderful Kiwi bloggers, read some beautiful prose (some bloggers perform virtual Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatics with the English language) and have been introduced to new flavours and tastes. Thank you for reading, as I continue my journey down the wonderful rabbit hole of Foodie Wonderland.
For this blogiversary, I thought I'd make a tart. Pear and chocolate is a match made in dessert heaven. Something about the slightly gritty but custard-like texture of a juicy pear and the intense flavour of chocolate makes it work. It’s as if the bad boy of fruits has a sophisticated fetish.
Nigel Slater wrote in Tender Vol.II that pears behave differently in the heat compared to apples. Fresh pears, no matter how ripe, dry out and lose their subtle flavour in the oven. They need to be poached for best results. If you prefer not to poach your own pears (but trust me, it is throw-everything-in-a-pot-and-simmer easy), canned pears are a great substitute. And I have utterly no shame in using frozen pastry to save time.
4 pears (or more)
3 large strips of zest and juice from 1 orange
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp vanilla paste (or scrap the seeds of one vanilla pod)
2 Tbsp honey
400g pack of sweet shortcrust pastry, thawed
70g caster sugar
80g ground blanched almonds
1 can pears or 3 poached pears
50g dark chocolate, chopped
Peel, halve and core the pears. Put all the ingredients together to boil, add in pear halves and simmer until soft (around 20 minutes). Drain and cool.
Preheat oven to 180°C. To make the tart, roll out the pastry to line a tart tin. Bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove baking beans, and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add in eggs, beating well after each addition. Fold in ground almonds and flour.
Slice the pear halves, - I like to make slits and fan them out, but you can arrange them in any pattern. Scatter the chocolate around the pears, then drop spoonfuls of batter, ensuring it is evenly distributed.
Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack, it will keep for up to 3 days.