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Chocolate Pear Tart

A totally indulgent dessert.  Start the pastry a day ahead if you can as it will yeild better results.

CHOCOLATE AND PEAR FRANGIPANE TART

Make the pastry a day ahead if possible, as the longer the pastry rests, the better the end result.

INGREDIENTS

FILLING

200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

200 ml pouring cream

40 g unsalted butter

2 eggs- room temperature

60 g almond meal

120 g caster sugar

20 g plain flour, plus extra to dust

Vanilla ice cream to serve (optional)

CHOCOLATE PASTRY

150 g (1 cup) plain flour

100 g Dutch cocoa powder

125 g unsalted butter, chopped at room temperature

1 free- range egg

90 g pure icing sugar

30 g (¼ cup) almond meal

POACHED PEARS

1L (4 cups) water

200 g caster sugar

½ vanilla bean split, seeds scraped

4 ripe pears, such as Williams

½ lemon

METHOD

1.       For the pastry, sift the flour and cocoa together in a bowl.  Use electric beaters to beat the butter, egg, icing sugar and almond meal in a separate bowl until smooth.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture until mixture just comes together.  Transfer to a work surface and shape into a disk.  Place in the fridge and cover with cling wrap for a minimum of 4 hours to rest.  (overnight is best)

2.      Meanwhile for the poached pears, place the water in a saucepan that will fit your pears snuggly.  Add the sugar and vanilla.  Bring to the boil.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Peal the pears and rub the cut side with lemon juice to prevent discolouration.  Place the pears in the saucepan.  Cover the pears with baking paper and a small heat proof plate to keep the pears submerged.  Bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 12-15 minutes until the pears are just tender.  Carefully transfer the pears and the syrup to a ceramic heat proof bowl and over with cling wrap.  Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

3.      Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until hot but not boiling.  Pour over the chocolate, add the butter.  Stir until the chocolate and butter have melted and the mixture is smooth.  Stir in the eggs and almond meal.  Fold in the sugar and flour until well combined.

4.      Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 4mm thick.  Use a 13cm round cutter to cut out 8 pastry discs.  Use the pastry discs to line eight 8cm tartlet pans with removable bases.  Trim away excess pastry.  Divide the chocolate mixture evenly among the pans.

5.      Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan forced.  Quarter and core 2 of the pears, reserving remaining pears for another use.  Cut into 7mm-thick slices.  Top the chocolate mixture with pear slices, slightly over lapping.  Bake for 20 minutes or until just set.  Serve with ice cream if using.