Bizarrely (for some), I am not the biggest Easter egg fan, perhaps because of my general indifference towards chocolate. So that was never the exciting part of Easter weekend for me. It was more about the reason for the season, the roast lamb, and whatever came next. Put chocolate in the form of a tart though, and we find ourselves having a whole different conversation. And so it was that after our stuffed roast leg of lamb and creamy pea and mint risotto on Sunday – along with Robert’s not to be forgotten slow-roasted rosemary potatoes, this (gorgeously autumnal) little tart is what we enjoyed with a scoop of home made honey and toasted pecan nut ice cream (recipe to follow soon).
As renowned French chef Raymond Blanc so eloquently puts it, great food is about ‘Love, butter and good ingredients’ and I like to think of this as just that, all rolled into one.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
[For 2 x 15cm tarts or one large 24cm tart]
For the Pastry
1½ cups all-purpose or cake flour
½ cup icing sugar
a pinch of salt
125 g cold butter
1 tsp vanilla extract / paste / essence
*Or use any well-behaved sweet shortcrust pasty recipe of your choice.
For the Filling
4 medium-sized ripe pears, peeled
250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 egg yolk
WHAT TO DO
1. To make the pastry, sieve the flour, icing sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl (I usually sieve straight into the bowl of my electric). On a low speed, or by hand, work the butter into the flour mixture, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add the egg, vanilla and milk, and mix gently. Try to avoid over-working the dough. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of 15
minutes. Lightly grease your tart tin/s and set aside.
3. In a microwave-proof dish, microwave the pears for 5 minutes, until they can be easily pierced with a knife. Allow to cool slightly and then cut each pear into thin slices.
4. While the pears cook, preheat oven to 120C and prepare the chocolate filling: place the chocolate in a mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water and melt, stirring occasionally. Then add the cream, milk and salt and stir to combine and set aside. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and add to the mixture.
5. Remove your pastry from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about ½ cm thick and use to line the tin/s or dish. Use a fork to prick the surface a few times and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes (to avoid blind-baking).
6. Remove your pastry-lined tart dish from the freezer, and lay the pear slices inside the pastry base/s, before pouring over the chocolate mixture.
7. Bake at 120C for approximately 45 minutes, remove from the oven and cool.
*You can double the pastry and freeze half for up to 2 months to use when you need it. For easy filling and baking, freeze the dough already in a pie dish if you have one spare.
* A great one to make the day before, just leave to rest at room temperature.