Tag Archives: tart

CHOCOLATE PEAR AND ALMOND TART with vanilla-rum cream.

Chocolate pear & almond tart

Pear and almond tart is one of my favourites and it’s very hard to make a dessert worse by adding chocolate to it, so I thought this was worth a shot.

The flavours of this are delicious, not too sweet but very rich. I like to serve it slightly warm so that the the middle is a little gooey.
I’ve used the same crust here as I make for my bakewell tart. It’s not the easiest dough to work with but it produces such a wonderfully buttery crisp base (almost like shortbread) that I feel that it is worth all the stickiness whilst trying to spread it around the tin. If you’re short on time (or inclination) then by all means use a ready prepared pastry case. I promise not to tell anyone. You can use fresh or tinned pears. Fresh obviously taste better and to poach them you just need to peel and core them before simmering them for around five minutes in a simple syrup made from 1 part sugar to 2 parts water. Easy peasy.

Chocolate pear & almond tart

Ingredients
serves 8-10

Pastry
150g plain flour
150g butter
30g icing sugar

Filling
4-6 poached pear halves (depending on size, mine were quite big so I could only fit 4 in the tin – 6 would have looked prettier)
100g butter
100g sugar
80g ground almonds
50g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract

Beat together the butter and icing sugar and then mix in the flour. This should make quite a soft dough. Spread this out into a well-greased, loose-bottomed tart tin. I use a combination of my fingers and the back of a metal spoon to do this. It does get a bit messy I’m afraid.
Once you’ve spread the dough evenly, cover it with a piece of baking parchment and pop it in the fridge to chill and firm up for 15 minutes whilst the oven pre-heats to 180°c. Cover the pastry base and parchment with baking beans and blind bake the case for 20 minutes. After this time remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes, until the pastry is just starting to brown. Set aside to cool a little whilst you make the filling.

Chocolate pear & almond tart

Beat together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the almonds and salt before sifting in the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Beat this together, I like to use a hand held electric mixer for this. Whisk together the eggs and almond extract before gradually beating this into the almond mixture.
Fill the pastry case with the frangipane mixture, spread it out evenly and then arrange the pears on top. You can see how I’ve sliced mine but really you can do whatever you like with them, it shouldn’t affect how the tart bakes. Push the pears down into the chocolate frangipane a little and then pop it in the oven for around 35 minutes. Once it’s done the frangipane will have puffed up a little to surround the fruit and it should be slightly crisp on the surface but feel soft to the touch.
Leave to cool a little before serving with a big dollop of the vanilla-rum cream.

Vanilla-rum cream

300ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp dark rum
1 tsp icing sugar

Whisk all the ingredients together until the cream is thick and fluffy. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Chocolate pear & almond tart

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HEMINGWAY TART or mojito Key lime pie

This recipe is inspired by our road trip to Key West, where I had my first taste of proper Key lime pie.

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Obviously it would be wrong to visit any area of the Caribbean and not sample a rum cocktail or three. Ordinarily I’m a dark rum kind of girl but I do love a mojito, the mint it so refreshing, especially in the humidity of the tropics!

One of the key flavours of a mojito is lime so I thought that if I was going to have a go at making a Key lime pie I may as well put some rum and mint in there too, just for good measure.

It’s very quick to make but looks and tastes really impressive. If you aren’t a fan of biscuit crumb crusts then by all means use a short crust pastry case instead.

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I’ve christened this Hemingway tart partly because he had a house in Key West and partly because his reputation leads me to believe that he would have enjoyed a boozy tart!

Ingredients

base
175g digestive biscuits/graham crackers
50g butter

filling
400g condensed milk
60g full fat sour cream
2 tbsp good quality white rum (I used Flor de Cana 4 year old)
1 heaped tbsp finely chopped mint
4 tbsp lime juice (I didn’t use actual Key limes as they can be tricky to find in the UK)

lime zest and whipped cream to decorate

Start by pre-heating your oven to 180°c. Crush the biscuits to a fine crumb, I use a food processor but if you’re having a bad day there’s something to be said for sealing them in a plastic bag and going at them with a rolling-pin.

Melt the butter and mix it with the biscuit crumbs. Press this into a standard size pie dish using the back of a metal spoon. Bake this for 5 mins.

Whilst with crust bakes you can prepare the filling. Whisk together all of the ingredients except the lime juice. Make sure that the mint is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. At this point the filling will seem impossibly thin and runny and you will probably be cursing me, convinced that it will never set firm enough to slice.

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Remove the crust from the oven and set it aside for a few moments. Whisk the lime juice into the filling mixture and it should magically thicken to a wonderfully fudgy consistency. The joy of chemistry eh?

Pop the tart back in the oven for a further eight minutes. It shouldn’t colour at all, in fact it shouldn’t look any different when you take it out of the oven. The heat of the oven just gives the chemical reaction a little helping hand to ensure that the filling is fully set.

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Chill the tart completely before decorating with whipped cream and lime zest for extra tang.

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TARTE AUX FRAISES

One of the advantages of growing up in the West Country is that you will undoubtedly get taken on a trip to France at some point. In my case these trips were a semi-regular occurrence, largely dependent upon the condition of my Dads wine rack.

French supermarkets are like an Aladdin’s Cave for me. I can cheerfully while away the hours while my Dad stocks up on wine by taking in all the amazing produce that they offer. Here you can often struggle to find a supermarket with a fishmonger let alone one with tanks full of live crabs and lobster and mounds of fresh langoustine.

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The patisserie is by far my favourite department. I marvel at the amount of effort and talent that must go into the array of beautifully decorated cakes, essentially created out of butter, eggs, flour and sugar. But for all their fanciness I don’t really think that you can beat a nice simple tarte aux fraise.
I love the fragrant strawberry nestling atop thick, creamy crème pâtissière piled into crisp, buttery pastry. Perfection.
Now, obviously strawberry tarts are not hard to find, it’s finding one that matches the high French bar that proves to be a challenge. I needed to make something with a pretty strong accent to satisfy this craving.

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Google.fr and my incredibly rusty A’ level French held the answer. I clumsily struggled my way through a few articles extolling the virtues of various recipes and settled on one for the pâte sablée pastry and another for the crème pâtissière filling.

I halved the amounts here to make a tarte for two and eight dinky petits four sized tarts (using silicone mini cupcake cases). The full amount should make a 25cm tart.

Ingredients
Pâte Sablée:
250g plain flour
125g butter
70g sugar
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
splash of water
Crème Pâtissière:
400ml milk
4 egg yolks
80g sugar
40g cornflour
1 tsp vanilla paste or seeds of 1 pod

enough small ripe strawberries to fill the tart in your chosen style
1 tbsp warmed strawberry jam to glaze

Preheat the oven to 180°c.
To make the pastry case whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. If they look very stiff then you may want to loosen then with a tiny splash of water. Be careful not to add too much though, you don’t want there to be too much liquid for the flour to absorb.
In another bowl rub the butter into the flour. Mix together with the eggs and sugar using a butter knife until the dough forms a soft ball.
Now either carefully roll out the dough (do this between sheets of grease proof paper to avoid incorporating any extra flour into the dough) or gently press the dough into a greased tart tin to line it. If you use this second method try to keep the dough fairly thin so that it stays crisp when it bakes.

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Once you have lined your tin with pastry prick the base with a fork and cover it with grease proof paper and baking beads. Blind bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is just starting to think about browning. Leave in the tin to cool.

Whilst the pastry case is baking you can make the crème pâtissière – this will give it a bit of extra cooling time before you assemble the tart.
In a large pan gently heat the milk and vanilla. It needs to be quite warm but not simmering. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour.
Carefully pour half of the warm milk on the egg mixture whisking continuously as you do so, no one wants sugary scrambled eggs. Add the remaining milk, give it a mix and return the whole lot to the saucepan.
Gently heat this mixture, stirring the whole time until the custard becomes gloriously thick and creamy. It needs to be able to hold its shape when the tart is sliced.

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Once you’ve got the consistency right you need to cool the custard. I just pour it back into the bowl and then sit this in a sink of cold water. Supposedly if you dust the surface with icing sugar it will prevent a skin from forming on it but I’ve never had much success with that. I just cover the bowl with cling film.
When all the components are cooled you can assemble your tart. Simply pile the crème pâtissière into the pastry case (remove it from the tin before filling) and top with strawberries, whole or sliced in any pattern that you like. Warm the jam, I just use the microwave, and use a pastry brush to brush it over fruit and give the tart a lovely shiny glaze.

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Chill until ready to serve. Bon appetite!

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