I’ve taken my favourite fruit and chocolate combination, plus my favourite chocolate tart recipe, and poshed it up with a little spice. A word of warning, though, the tart needs to be made ahead so the centre can cool and set.
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- generous pinch of saffron
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 pears (preferably beurre bosc), peeled, halved, cored
- 200 ml thickened cream
- 10 star anise
- 350 g milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 2 tbsp brandy
- icing sugar, to dust
- 230 g plain flour
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 110 g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
- 1 egg yolk
Chilling time 2½ hours
Infusing time 20 minutes
To make pastry, process flour, sugar, butter and ½ tsp salt in a food processor until the mixture resembles crumbs. Whisk egg yolk with 60 ml iced water and, with the motor running, add to flour mixture and process until mixture just comes together. Shape pastry into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, place 1 litre water, caster sugar, saffron and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a simmer, add pears (the liquid should cover them; you might need to weigh them down with a saucer so they don’t float) and cover with a cartouche (see Note). Reduce heat to medium–low and poach pears for 30 minutes or until tender. Cool, then cut each pear half into 2 pieces.
Place cream and star anise in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from heat and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Remove star anise from cream and reheat. Add chocolate all at once, whisking until smooth. When it’s all evenly textured, remove pan from heat and stir in brandy. Allow to cool.
Roll pastry out to 3 mm thick, then line a deep, 24 cm pie dish or tart pan with the pastry. Prick all over with a fork, then place in freezer for 30 minutes. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with baking weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove weights and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes or until just dry to touch. Set aside to cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 160°C. Spread the star anise-flavoured ganache over the pastry shell. Pop the pears onto the ganache and bake tart for 25 minutes or until the ganache is just set. Cool completely, then serve dusted with icing sugar.
• This is a paper lid that is placed directly on the surface of food during cooking to slow down the reduction of moisture. To make your own, take a square sheet of baking paper slightly larger than the pan you intend to use. Fold in half on the diagonal, then repeat to make a small triangle. Unfold paper and gently place over pan, with centre crease marking lined up over the centre of your pan. Using scissors, trim overlapping edges of paper to create a circle that fits snugly into your pan.