I don’t make deserts too often, frankly because it’s not where my comfort zone lies in cooking terms. But, saying that, I have a very powerful sweet tooth, and that makes me somewhat an expert when in comes to knowing what will taste amazing when it comes to deserts.
I often don’t bother with ordering a desert when I go out to eat, mainly because, well frankly, they are a bit boring and samey and anything that has the word “deconstructed” in it is just asking for trouble. Why for hundred of years has a rhubard crumble been as we know and love it to be, and then all of a sudden it has to be deconstructed which usually has the end result of not being as good as the original and a triumph of look and techqnique over flavour and skill in delivering a knock out pudding. Not that I am saying that I am better at making deserts than restaurant chefs – god no, I would never say that. Only, that when I do decide to make a proper desert, I try and do the best I personally can with it.
And so, it is apple and pear season and everywhere you look there’s recipes for the best ever apple pie / crumble / pear frangipane tart. So what makes mine better? I’m not saying it is, but if you like pears, frangipane, chocolate and salted caramel ice cream, I gonna bet I’m on to a winner with this recipe! As you know, most of my recipes try to be from scratch to fork in an hour or less. Puddings don’t tend to carry well with this rule and this desert is definitely no different. However, the good news is that you can absolutely make both the ice cream and the pastry well in advance, and even take it up to the point of coming out of the oven the day before you need it for say, a dinner party, meaning that if you are organised enough, the only thing you will need to do on the day is make the ganache and serve it up to your dinner guests!
Salted Caramel Ice Cream:
The recipe for this no-churn salted caramel ice cream is credited 100% in full to the wonderful Nigella Lawson. I came across this recipe on her website a few months ago, and it was pretty much this ice cream that spawned the idea for the tart. It simply is devine. My husband cannot stop eating it! Rather than me replicate it here for you, you can download the recipe for free directly from her website:
For the tart, I am breaking the process down into stages for the pears, pastry, frangipane and chocolate ganache.
- 175g of plain flour
- 30g ground almonds
- 50g icing sugar
- 125g cold unsalted butter (diced)
- 1 egg, beaten
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp of iced water
- Place the four, almonds and icing sugar into a processor and pulse together to mix.
- Add the butter and process again until the mixture resembles a crumble topping.
- In a jug, beat together the egg, salt and iced water.
- With the motor running on the processor, pour the egg mixture down the funnel to bind the pastry.
- If this doesn’t happen (it might take a minute) and still looks dry, carefully add another 1 tsp of water.
- When it has all come together, it should be quite a pliable dough. Bring it together, flatten it slightly, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to chill right down before rolling.
- If you are stuck for time, you can pop it quickly in the freezer, but don’t forget about it and don’t let ut freeze or even crystalise otherwise you will have to start again.
- 4 large, firm but ripe, conference pears, peeled and de-seeded .
- 1 stick of cinnamon, cracked into two pieces
- 1 star anise
- Thumb sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and halved
- 1 vanilla pod, split, seeds taken out (keep the pod)
- 125g of white sugar
- enough cold wter to cover the pears in the pan.
- Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan ensuring that the pears are well covered.
- Cover will a lid and gently poach in the water without boiling until the pears are cooked but are still holding their shape well.
- Take the pears out from the syrupy juices with a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen towel to drain and dry fully before placing inside the tart case.
- When ready to use, cut each pear into quarters and take out the seeds.
While the pears are poaching and the pastry is resting, make the frangipani filling.
Turn the oven on to 200 degrees celsius.
- 125g butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 125g ground almonds
- grating of fresh nutmeg
- Melt the butter and leave it to cool slightly (you can do this on the hob or in the microwave)
- Beat together the sugar, eggs and nutmeg and add the melted butter.
- Stir in the ground almonds.
Bringing the Tart Together!
- Take a fluted pie tin (preferably one with a removable base – it makes it easier to get out of the tin after the tart is cooked) and grease the edges and base well.
- Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin. Roll out the pastry to fit. Pick up the pastry using the rolling pin and carefully drape the pastry into the pie dish.
- Gently push the pastry into the sides of the pie tin without breaking the pastry. Prick the base with a fork.
- Place the cooked, drained and patted dry pears into the pastry. I arrange the pears head to toe in a circle, and insert a couple into the centre last.
- Pour over the frangipane mix over the top ensuring that all the pears are well covered.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden. Any pastry that was over the side of pie dish will be easy to push off using your thumb to create a beautifully even pie crust all the way around.
- Leave the tart to cool completely in the pie dish.
- When the tart has cooled completly, slip it out from the sides of the pie dish and sit it on a plate. If you are feeling brave you can try to take off the base too, but this isn’t essential so don’t feel under any pressure!
- Make the chocolate ganache.
Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
- 100g of dark chocolate (60% or, if you can handle very dark chocolate, 80% is excellent with this too)
- 50g of soft unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp of double cream
- 1 tbsp of icing sugar (sieved)
Chocolate Ganache Method:
- Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water (a bain marie)
- Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, cream and icing sugar.
- Immediately pour the ganache over the pear tart to coat it completely smoothing the icing with a pallet knife.
- Try to get an even spread of the ganache so that there is the same amount of chocolate topping all the way along.
- Place in the fridge for an hour to harden.
- When ready to serve, dust the top of the tart with icing sugar. Serve up a portion along with a generous scoop of the salted caramel ice cream.