Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dark Chocolate Tart with Ginger and Cinnamon Poached Pear

As the nights get colder and darker my need for a sweet finish to the evening tends to increase.  Inner comfort required to replace the outer comfort lost by the lack of a balmy evening.  However it can be hard, especially during the week, to find the time or the energy to put into making a dessert.

After getting through the door, donning the slippers and the pair of comfy trackpants it can be hard enough getting some food in the cat's bowl, let alone feeding the Wife and I!

A good trick I find is to make a couple of extra servings of dinner the night before so that you can spend all your efforts on the dessert dish and simply reheat your main course in the microwave.  So why not try that and give yourself a few spare moments to put together this delectable offering?

This dish started with the Pear.  Seen as a winter fruit they are actually available almost year round.  It seems that only when the summer fruits leave the shelves the Pear starts to creep it's way into the shopping baskets of New Zealanders.  The trick to enjoying them is having them perfectly ripe.  Too hard, and they lack the juiciness required.  Too soft and the texture becomes mushy and not enjoyable.  Just right and you have yourself a few minutes of consumable heaven.

The words dessert and Pear lead us to one logical conclusion.  Chocolate.  When the world was put together there are some food unions which were always meant to be.  Bacon and Eggs.  Jelly and Ice Cream.  Fish and Chips and Watties.  Pear and Chocolate.

A match made in heaven
 We're going to poach the pear in a flavored sugar syrup.  There are many recipes around for poaching pears in wine.  And that produces an enjoyable result.  I have always found it a tad traumatic giving up a glass to the pear so am relieved that this sans wine method still gives fantastic flavor.

I've used individual tart dishes which I picked up at the Wharehouse for about $8 for four.  They come in very handy for dinner parties.  You can use a large pie or flan dish if you like but the quantities and cooking times will vary.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Ginger and Cinnamon Poached Pear


1 Pear, Beurre Bosc if you can.
100g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa).  I use the Lindt stuff.  Tis good.
100g Sweet Shortcrust pastry
1/3 cup cream
1 egg, beaten
1 cup + 2Tbsp Caster Sugar
2 cups water
A thumb size piece of ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract or a vanilla pod.
1 Tbsp Butter


1.  Peel and dice the ginger.  Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a medium saucepan then add the cinnamon stick and ginger.  Saute for 2 minutes.
2.  Take off the heat then add the sugar and the vanilla (if using the pod cut in half and scrape out seeds then add both seeds and pod) then about 2 cups boiling water.
3.  Put back on the heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved peel and core your pear then chop it in half.  Place each half into the sugar syrup.
4.  Cook at a simmer until the pear is tender.  About 30-40 minutes.  Take off the heat and leave the pear to cool in the sugar syrup.
5.  Meanwhile turn the oven onto 160 degrees C.  Roll out your pastry until it is approx 2-3mm thick.  Line your pastry tins with the pastry and then cut off any excess.  Prick the pastry a few times with a fork and then place in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.
6.  Remove from the fridge.  Line the pastry with baking paper and fill the case with pie weights, or dry rice.  Place in the oven for approx 10 minutes.  Remove the weights and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the pastry is just cooked.
7.  Brush the cooked pastry case with a little of the beaten egg.  Put back in the oven for a minute.  This seals the pastry and also gives it a nice sheen.
8.  Melt the chocolate with the cream by putting both into a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  The water should be enough so that it doesn't boil dry, but not so much that it touches the bowl.
9.  In a separate bowl whisk together the egg and caster sugar then slowly add the heated chocolate mixture, stirring constantly to combine.
10.  Fill your pastry cases 3/4 of the way with the chocolate mixture then take your poached pear.  With a small knife cut slits in the pear from the stalk end to the base, so that the pear can be squashed flat into a fan shape.

Cut slits in the pear to be able to lay it flat on the tart

 11.  Place the poached pear on top of the chocolate mixture.  Chuck in the oven for about 12 minutes until the chocolate mix has set.
12.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before removing the tart from the case.
13.  Serve with some Cream sweetened with Vanilla Extract and Icing sugar and spoon over a few teaspoons of the sugar syrup for some extra sweetness.

Looks like someone enjoyed it!

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