At the best of times, chocolate and pear is a match made in heaven. But this tart here takes things to an all-new level. I’ve made and tasted my fair share of chocolate and pear creations, and very few come close to this tart. The crumbly shortcrust pastry, sweet poached pears and chocolate mousse filling make this an unforgettable dessert.
And it’s not hard to make either (easier than the length of the recipe would suggest, promise!). Of course, with the pastry, things take a bit longer and you may be tempted to skip that step and buy a ready-to-go pastry, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You can really taste the difference between the bought stuff and the real thing. It’s actually a very easy pastry to make and requires no kneading. And since I have a soft spot for things like salted caramel and fleur de sel with chocolate, I like to add a generous pinch of salt to the pastry for this recipe (but if that’s not to your taste, just reduce to a small pinch). It gives the end result a certain je ne sais quoi. So roll up your sleeves and get those hands floury!
I came across the recipe for this chocolate pear tart only very recently – and I knew just by reading it that it was a winner. It was in a new cookbook of Rachel Allen’s, called Coast. And even though I had sworn not to buy anymore of her books (I own about 8 or 9 already … not to mention a large collection of Darina Allen and Ballymaloe ones!), I just couldn’t resist this new one, which takes a culinary trip around Ireland’s coast. Something I’d love to do myself … Part of the reason for buying it, though, was curiosity – I had hoped she might have been to Bofin and that I’d come across some pictures of home. But alas, she didn’t make it out that far. Never mind, she did stop in Cleggan for some crabmeat from Johnny King. That made me smile. Wistfully. I always find it so surreal when I read or hear about people from home when I live so far away. And it inevitably ramps up the homesickness. Sigh.
For this recipe, I swapped Rachel’s pastry recipe for my own. I’m sure hers is perfectly good, but I like the texture of mine and I know it’ll work without fail. And remember – please think twice before opting for a shop-bought pastry. It just won’t taste anywhere near as good as the real thing.
Chocolate pear tart
Adapted from: Rachel Allen, Coast
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 30–60 minutes’ chilling time for pastry
Cooking time: approx. 35 minutes all in all
Oven temperature: 180°C
Baking tin: 25.5 x 3 cm (10 x 1.25 inch) tart tin (ideally with a removable base, but not essential)
- For the pastry
- 275 g plain flour, sifted
- 25 g icing sugar, sifted
- 225 g unsalted butter, diced
- 1 teaspoon salt (or just a pinch, if you’re not into salt in sweet things)
- 1–2 tablespoons water
- For the pears
- 3 medium pears, peeled, quartered and cored
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- For the chocolate
- 200 g dark chocolate (the darker the better; I like 70% best)
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 5 eggs (2 whole eggs, plus 3 egg yolks)
- 40 g caster sugar
– For the pastry, sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
– Add enough of the water to bring the dough together in the bowl. If 2 tablespoons aren’t enough, add another. But mix gently, don’t overwork the dough.
– Once it comes together in the bowl, place the ball of dough on some cling film and flatten it out into the rough shape of a circle, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
– Grease the tart tin and set aside.
– Now prepare the pears – peel, quarter and core them. Place in a small saucepan with the sugar and water, and cook gently for 20–30 minutes with the lid on.
– Next, roll out your pastry to about 5 mm thick and press into tin. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes (I sometimes skip this step!).
– Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C and, when ready, bake the pastry blind (see note below) for 20 minutes. Remove, brush with some egg (I use some of the leftover egg whites) and bake for another 3–5 minutes. Set aside. Leave oven on.
– When the pears are soft, allow to cool, then slice thinly.
– For the chocolate filling, put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl on a saucepan of simmering water. Don’t allow the water to boil. Turn off the heat as soon as it comes to the boil. The heat will be enough to melt the chocolate and butter.
– While they are melting, place the eggs and yolks in a mixing bowl with the sugar and mix on a high speed for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
– Gently stir in the melted chocolate and butter.
– And now for assembly and baking: place the sliced pears in the pastry case and pour over the chocolate filling. Spread evenly and pop into the oven for 7 minutes exactly. (Yes, really!)
– The mixture will look slightly unset, but it will set as it cools.
– Once cool, sift some 100% cocoa powder over the top. I like to sprinkle a tiny bit of fleur de sel over that. Serve with whipped cream.
– The tart is best eaten fresh. I found it doesn’t taste nearly as good the next day. And keeping it in the fridge doesn’t do it any favours either. So aim to make it the day you plan to eat it.
– To bake pastry blind means to bake the pastry case prior to adding the filling, thus avoiding a soggy bottom. To do this, you’ll need baking beans or dried pulses. Start by placing a clean sheet of baking paper over the pastry, pour in the beans/pulses, spread around and bake as per instructions. When done, lift out the baking paper, beans and all, and place the lot in a bowl to cool. Then continue with the egg wash as instructed.