Tag Archives: baking

Pear & Chocolate Almond Tart

20 Sep

I like dessert. I just do. In fact dinner doesn’t seem finished until I’ve had it. Even if it’s just a square of chocolate. Lately with all the fresh summer fruit that’s around, I’ve been keeping some individual tart shells in the freezer so that I can experiment with different flavours and have dessert at a moment’s notice.

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The inspiration for this tart comes from some lovely Bosc pears that I collected for another project – a canned Pear and Vanilla preserve.  I had one lonely pear left and with it, was able to make these two lovely tarts.

The addition of chocolate seemed an appropriate nod to my almost namesake dessert Poire Belle Hélène. (When is chocolate NOT appropriate?)

These little tarts are rich and tasty and seem to be just perfect for the cooler weather.

Here’s what you do for 4 tarts. (I halved the recipe to make 2)

Pastry

200 g (1 1/2 cups + 2 TBSP) all-purpose flour

50 g  (1/3 cup) ground almonds

75 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar

160g (11 TBSP) salted butter at room temperature, cubed

1 egg yolk

Rub together with your fingertips, the flour sugar and butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg yolk and work through together with your hands. Turn out on to a floured surface and work it together into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. When the time has elapsed take the dough out of the fridge and wait for 10 minutes before rolling it out. I roll it between two sheets of parchment paper and then mark a circle around the tin and then use a palette knife to separate the pastry from the parchment, finally using the parchment to flip it into the tin. Line the individual tart shells. You can make the pastry in advance and freeze in the individual tart shells or freeze any extra pastry that you have. If you are working from frozen, take the shells out of the freezer about 1/2 an hour before you want to use them. If you are working from fresh, refrigerate the pastry shells while you make the filing.

Filling

56 g  (1/4 cup) butter

70 g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar

85 g ( 3/4 cup) almond flour/meal

1 TBSP all-purpose flour

1 egg

50 g chocolate (70% cocoa)

2 small Bosc pears

25 g  (1/8 cup) granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Slice the pears in half lengthwise and remove the core from each half with a melon-baller or spoon.  Now slice finely lengthwise, keeping the slices together and place on a plate. Squeeze some lemon juice over the slices to keep from browning while you make the rest of the filling.

Melt the chocolate slowly over a double-boiler while you make the filling (or cheat like I did and do it in the microwave.)

To make the filling, combine the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the  flour and almond flour followed by the egg and the almond extract.

Divide the filling between the tart shells and spread evenly into each. Divide the chocolate between the shells, dropping it in spoonfulls over the filling. Run a knife through the chocolate to mix it slightly into the filling. Now place your pears, keeping the fine slices together in the centre of the tart shell and press down slightly so that the filling squeezes up around the sides and the slices separate ever so slightly. Combine the granulated sugar and cinammon and sprinkle over the pears.

Bake in a 325 oven for 50 minutes or until the pastry is nicely browned and the almond filling springs back when touched.

Now taste it. You’re welcome!

Blueberry Apricot Custard Crumble Tarts

11 Aug

So I’m sitting here writing this and there is literally sweat pouring down my temples and I’m wondering who in their right mind would attempt to bake anything on a day such as this. I arose early and was actually glad to see a cloudy sky thinking…ahhh some coolness.  This combined with an unexpected and very welcome gift of local blueberries on Friday night and the presence of a couple of apricots on my counter which in the words of my mother ‘needed eating’ sparked the idea.  Add to this the fact that I knew that way back, in the depths of my freezer,  were two beautiful previously prepped tart shells and we now had the perfect storm of conditions for my baking madness. So the oven was already preheating by the time I realized this was not going to be the cool day I had imagined. Oh well suck it up. I love it when conditions and and ingredients spring up to magically provide a recipe so here’s what I came up with. Blueberry and Apricot Custard Crumble Tarts. A mouthful, you say? Yes it is. And you will like it.

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I recently made a lovely lemon tart using a pâte sablée from one of my favourite books Classic Artisan Baking by Julian Day. This has become my new very favourite pastry. It is rich and buttery and almondy and well, it’s just perfect. And it freezes very well so when I had some leftovers I immediately pressed them into two tart shells for future use and popped them in the freezer…where I found them today.

The other gift that allowed this to happen today was a crumble mixture that I also keep on standby in the freezer. I inevitably have too much of it whenever I make it and the first time this happened I froze it. It happened by accident the first time but the results were so good that I admit that now I make it in advance and always have some on stand by. I mean who knows when you could be called upon to provide a crumble at a moment’s notice.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Finally, this dessert makes use of a custard filling which I think is one of the loveliest parts of this dessert. It gives it a kind of bread-puddingy-ness (Yes, of course it’s a word).

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Blueberry Apricot Custard Crumble Tarts

For 4 tarts you will need:

Pastry

4  (4 inch) tart shells lined with your favourite pastry. I used pâte sablée from Classic Artisan Baking.  Before discovering this pastry I had no qualms of buying store-bought pastry (shock-horror!)  from people who were far better at pastry making than I was.  I like a sablée pastry for the almond flour which gives it such a richness.

You will need to follow the directions for your pastry and blind bake it. Usually this involves covering the shells with parchment or foil  and filling with baking beans before baking for about 15-20 minutes. (Depending on your pastry). Remove the beans and parchment and bake for another 5 minutes or so to slightly brown the pastry.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Custard Filling

1 egg

1/4 cup / 6o ml whipping cream

1 TBSP sugar

pinch of cinnamon

dash of vanilla or almond extract

Lightly beat the egg, add the cream and other ingredients, whisk and then set aside until needed.

Crumb Topping 

(makes more than enough to save for later)

1 cup / 227 grams sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 lb / 113 grams cold butter

1/4 cups / 156 grams all-purpose flour

Combine first three ingredients cutting in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the flour and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture has the texture of fine breadcrumbs.  Set aside until ready to use. Freeze what you don’t use to for the crumbles of your future. (Just top your fruit with the mixture and you are good to go).

Fruit Filling

about 1  cup of blueberries

3 apricots, sliced

To assemble:

Once cool, fill the tart shells with a single layer of blueberries, then arrange the apricots on top to your liking. I used 5 apricot slices per tart but you could use more. Then fill in the holes/gaps with more blueberries.  Depending on how sweet your fruit is, you may want to sprinkle some sugar on the fruit at this stage. Taste it and make a call. Now pour the custard mixture over the tarts until the level of custard is just shy of the top of the pastry case. (Stir the custard before pouring as it may have settled). Finally sprinkle some of the crumble mixture on top. Really this part is up to you depending on how much crumble you prefer but I used about 2 TBSP per tart.

Bake at 350 until the crumb topping is golden brown and the custard and fruit juices are bubbling up through the top of the crumb.

Eat and enjoy while mopping the sweat from your brow and thinking how very clever you are!

Caraway Seed Cake

6 Feb

This recipe is inspired by a good friend in Ireland. Actually she was my former boss. I  have to hand it to her in terms of providing excellent office perks. Every day at 10:30 or 11:00 we’d break for tea and she would often bring in some of her own home baking to share. Continue reading

Rainy Day Baking

3 Feb

Baking. I used to do it all the time but kind of lost my passion for it.  Cooking is so much more forgiving than baking and I like to make mistakes.  But for some reason this past Christmas –  I think I was spurred on by new baking accessories – I found myself knee deep in flour and sugar.  Here are some of my treats.

And today on this rainy day in Vancouver, what better than one of these with a nice cuppa.  Lovely.

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