Pear and Almond Tart

Oooooh this is something I just do not make often enough!

Makes 1 x 20 cm Tart

Poached Pears

To poach approximately 5 pears
300 g              caster sugar
1,5 lt                water
80 ml              lemon juice

Sweet Pastry

40 g                icing sugar, sieved
1                      egg yolk
60 g                butter, softened
125 g               plain flour
1 tbsp             water
1 pinch           salt

Almond Cream

100 g             butter, softened
100 g             icing sugar, sifted
100 g              ground almonds
2                      eggs
2 tbsp             cream

Filling

6                      pear halves – poached, cooled and cored

 

Poaching the pears

  • Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to the boil
  • Turn down the heat so the syrup simmers
  • Peel and core the base of the pears
  • Poach the pears in the syrup, covered with a weighted down cartouche
  • When a knife will easily pierce the pears they are ready
  • Remove and allow to cool

Making the Sweet Pastry:

  • In a large bowl, mix together the icing sugar and egg yolk to a smooth paste
  • Then add the softened butter and cream together to give a smooth appearance
  • Add the flour and a pinch of salt to the butter mixture and rub together using your fingertips until it resembeles bread crumbs in texture
  • Add the water, then mix and press together
  • Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough on it
  • Knead with the palms of your hands until it is well blended
  • Form into the shape of a round flat patty
  • Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a minumum of 20 minutes

Rolling and cooking the pastry:

  • Roll out the sweet pastry and line your tart tin
  • Trim off the excess pastry and prick the bottom with a fork all over
  • Freeze for 30 minutes as this will help prevent shrinkage
  • Pre heat the oven to 180°C
  • Cook the pastry blind with baking beans for 5 minutes
  • Remove the baking beans and paper, bake until golden grown
  • Brush with egg white and bake for a further minute
  • Set to one side

To make the almond cream:

  • Combine all of the ingredients and mix until well blended.

To assemble the tart

  • Spread the almond cream on the bottom of the tart.
  • Cut 4 pear halves into slices from the pear stalk and fan out the slices
  • Place the pears on top of the almond cream around the outside and then place one full half in the centre
  • Place the tart in the oven and bake for 40 minutes at 160°C
  • Remove and allow to cool
  • Sprinkle the edge with a little icing sugar and serve

Chef’s Notes:

  • You could use are apricots, prunes, cherries or plums as alternative fillings.

Chocolate and Pear Tart

Indulgence, decadence and oh so moorish in one! 

Makes 6 small tarts

Sweet pastry

60g                  unsalted butter – softened
40g                  icing sugar – sieved
1                      egg yolk
100 g               plain flour
25 g                 coco powder
1 tbsp             water
1                      egg white

Poached pear

1                       pear
250ml             water
80 g                 sugar
½                     lemon, juiced

Chocolate filling

200 ml            cream
150 g               70% chocolate

Topping

30 g                 pine nuts, toasted
30 g                 almond slithers

Sweet pastry:

  • In a large bowl, mix together the icing sugar and egg yolk
  • Add the butter and combine to give a smooth appearance
  • Add the flour and coco powder to the butter mixture and ‘cut’ the mixture with a spatula before, rubbing together using your fingertips until the mixture resemble breadcrumbs
  • Add the water, then mix and press together.
  • Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough on it. Knead with the palms of your hands until it is well blended
  • Shape into a patty, wrap in cling film and refrigerate

Poached pear

  • Place the water, sugar and lemon juice in a sauce pan
  • Place over a medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved
  • Slice the pear lengthways into 3 mm slices
  • Place the pear into the sugar syrup and simmer for 5 minutes or until just tender
  • Remove off the heat and allow to cool 

Chocolate filling

  • Place the cream in a sauce pan and bring to just before boiling point
  • Remove off the heat and pour the hot cream onto the chocolate
  • Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is silky smooth
  • Pour into a jug and keep warm

Rolling the pastry

  • Roll out the pastry between 2 sheets of cling film
  • Roll as thinly as you dare and ensuring the pastry will line 2 or 3 tart shells
  • Cut the pastry and gather up the remains
  • Line you tart shell with the cut pieces, getting the pastry into the corners
  • Put the trimmings together, re roll and repeat the process
  • Trim and dock the bottom
  • Place the tart shells in the freezer for 15 minutes
  • Place the pastry straight into a pre-heated oven at 180°C
  • After 5 minutes, check the pastry for any shrinkage, if any, draw up the sides quickly using a cloth and pinching the pastry
  • Bake for a further 5 minutes
  • Remove and brush the pastry shell with egg white
  • Place back in the oven for 1 minute. (This will prevent a soggy bottom when adding the filling)
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool

To assemble

  • Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart shells
  • Drain the pears, pat dry on kitchen towel and place on the top of each tart
  • Scatter around the pear with almonds and pine nuts

 

Yoghurt and Berry Lollies

A healthier indulgence with all the textures!

Makes 4 (depending on size of your moulds)

Ingredients

100 g              raspberries/ blackberries/ blueberries
25 g                caster sugar
250 g              full cream yoghurt
½ cup            muesli

Method

  • In a mixing bowl add the berries of choice and the sugar
  • Using a fork, smash the berries up, but keeping a coarse texture
  • ¼ fill your ice-lolly moulds with the yoghurt
  • Then add a teaspoonful of the berries to each of the moulds and a teaspoonful of the muesli
  • Tap the moulds on the surface to remove any air pockets
  • Fill all the way and repeat with the berries
  • Finish off with a generous amount of muesli, tapping the moulds on the surface
  • Freeze for a minimum of 3 hours
  • To remove the lollies, place the moulds into a bowl of hot water for5 seconds.

 

Beetroot and Blueberry Smoothie

A great way to start your day and boost yourself!

Serves 2 

Ingredients

200 ml          milk or water
4 tbsp            plain yoghurt
1                      banana
1 small           beetroot, washed, peeled, and grated
1 handful       fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tbsp             oats (optional)

Method

  • Place all the ingredients into a blender
  • Start pulsing the ingredients to start with and then blend for a few minutes until smooth

Chocolate and Orange Mousse

Decadence and a little indulgence never hurt anyone! 

Ingredients

350 g                          70% chocolate
1 tsp                           nutmeg
1                                  orange, zested

100 ml                        water
150 g                          sugar
5                                  egg yolks

120 g                          sugar
2                                 egg whites

300 ml                      cream

 

Method

  • Place the chocolate over a double boiler of simmering water
  • Let the chocolate melt and then remove off the heat
  • Add in the nutmeg and orange zest, leave to cool

 

  • Place the 100 ml water and 150 g sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved
  • Once the liquid is clear, increase the temperature to high and bring to the boil

 

  • Beat the egg yolks in a mixing bowl with an electric whisk until pale yellow and the mixture has thickened
  • Boil the syrup until it reaches 130°C using a sugar thermometer
  • Trickle the sugar syrup into the beaten egg yolks, whisking with the electric beaters consistently
  • Continue beating until the mixture increases in volume and become very creamy

 

  • Then place the mixture over a double boiler with boiling water
  • Whisk over the heat for 5 – 8 minutes until the mixtures becomes thicker and firmer, then remove off the heat

 

  • Using clean beaters, start whisking the egg whites, adding the 120 g sugar in 3 stages
  • Whisk the egg whites until thick, stiff and glossy

 

  • In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until a soft peak stage

 

  • Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, followed by the meringue
  • Then fold the cream into the chocolate mixture
  • Spoon the mousse into individual jars and chill for a minimum for 2 hours

Crème Caramel

An old fashion classic. It is all about the bosom jiggle! 

Ingredients

170 g              caster sugar
100 ml            water

300 ml            cream
360 ml            milk
1                      vanilla pod, split lengthways in half
6                      eggs
170 g              caster sugar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 170°C
  • Add 170 g sugar and the water in a saucepan over low heat
  • Heat gently for 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally
  • Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil
  • Boil, without stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden
  • Remove from the heat and set aside for 2 minutes to allow bubbles to subside
  • Pour the sugar mixture into six fluted molds/ Dario molds, set aside to set
  • Combine the cream, milk and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium heat
  • Bring to a simmer and infuse the vanilla for 4 – 6 minutes
  • Remove from heat
  • Whisk the eggs and remaining sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy
  • Slowly add the cream mixture, whisking constantly
  • Strain the mixture through a sieve into a jug
  • Divide between the molds
  • Place the molds in a deep roasting pan
  • Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until halfway up the sides of the mold
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until just set
  • Remove the roasting pan from the oven
  • Remove the molds from the water bath
  • Set aside to cool, then refrigerate overnight
  • Run a thin knife around edge of each dish
  • Turn out onto deep plates and serve

Chocolate Tart

Indulgent, decadent and deathly all wrapped in one!

Makes 1 x 8 inch by 1 inch baking tin

Ingredients – Sweet Pastry

60g                  unsalted butter – softened
40g                  icing sugar – sieved
1                       egg yolk
125g                plain flour
1 tbsp              water

 

Method

  • In a large bowl, mix together the icing sugar and egg yolk.
  • Add the butter and cream together to give a smooth appearance.
  • Add the flour to the butter and rub together using your fingertips until it becomes sandy in texture.
  • Add the water, then mix and press together.
  • Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough on it. Knead with the palms of your hands until it is well blended, more vigorously for the last few seconds.
  • Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Rolling out the pastry

  • Place a sheet of cling film flat on the work surface
  • Then place your chilled dough in the centre
  • Place another piece of cling film over the dough

NB       This technique saves you on using flour to roll out the dough

  • Roll out the dough to a 3mm thickness or until the required surface area that is needed to cover the ring, plus excess (approx 25cm)
  • Remove the top layer of cling film
  • Wrap the pastry around a rolling pin
  • Carefully place it over your tart ring
  • Line the inside of the tart dish, cling film side up
  • Using your thumb, very gently press the pastry into the corner of the ring
  • Cut off the overlapping dough at the top
  • Then prick the bottom all over with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes
  • This allows the pastry to relax and helps to prevent shrinkage
  • Pre heat your oven to 180°C
  • After an hour, place the pastry in the oven to bake
  • After 5 minutes, check for any shrinkage

NB at this stage only can you still pull up the sides of pastry to maintain a good depth

  • Leave for another 5 minutes or until golden brown
  • Remove carefully from the oven and brush with egg white
  • Place back in the oven for 1 minutes

NB this seals the base of the tart and prevents it from going soggy to quickly

  • Leave to cool
  • Reduce the oven down to 150’C.

Ingredients – Chocolate filling

180g                58% chocolate
170ml              whipping cream
1                       egg
75ml               milk

Method 

  • Melt chocolate and mix in cream.
  • Whisk the egg and milk together and incorporate into chocolate mixture.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into pastry case and bake at 150°c for 20 minutes
  • Then turn the oven off and allow the tart to cool slowly in the oven.

Crème Brûlée

This is a recipe I believe indicates how good can you be!

Serves 6

Ingredients

600ml             fresh cream
70g                  white sugar
1                      vanilla pod, split in half-length ways
4                      egg yolks
Caster sugar

Method

  • Heat the cream in a double boiler and add the split vanilla pod.
  • In a mixing bowl place in the egg yolks and sugar and whisk together
  • Pour the hot cream over the yolks whisking continuously
  • Remove the vanilla pod
  • Pour the mixture into a jug
  • Pour the mixture into the oven proof ramekins
  • Place in an oven proof dish lined with kitchen towel
  • Fill half way up the sides of the ramekins with boiling water
  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 150’c for 40-50 minutes, until the mixture is just set, should have a slight wobble
  • Leave to cool then refrigerate
  • Sprinkle the caster sugar evenly on top of each brûlée
  • Wipe clean the rim and edge of the ramekin
  • Using a blow torch or a very hot grill, melt and caramalise the sugar
  • Leave to cool for a minute or two and then serve

Chefs Tip

  • Place a tablespoon of your favourite berry puree in the bottom of the ramekin before pouring in the custard mixture

Good ol’ Cherry Pie

A little technical challenge but rather rewarding!

Ingredients

Dough:

300 g              flour
150 ml            milk
85 g                sugar
18 g                fresh yeast
50 g                butter, soft
2½ g               salt
1                      egg yolk

Filling:

700 g              cherries, drained weight
350 ml            cherry juice
70 g                 sugar
2 tbsp              caster sugar
1 tsp                 vanilla paste
2½ tbsp          maizena
1                        lemon, juice and zest
1                       orange, juice and zest
1tsp                  all spice
1                       cinnamon quill

Assembly:

1                      egg yolk, beaten
50g                 sugar

Method

Dough

  • Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk – not too hot, or it will kill the yeast.
  • Add the salt and sugar to the flour, and combine.
  • Add the milk and egg and bring it together.
  • When it starts forming a ball, add the soft butter.
  • Knead for 5 minutes.
  • Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rest for 30 minutes in a warm place (do not over proof or the dough will be yeasty).

Filling:

  • Combine the maizena with the sugar.
  • Pour the cherry juice in a pan and add the vanilla, spices and orange and lemon zest and juice.
  • Add the thickening agent/sugar mixture.
  • Slowly bring to a boil, while stirring and watching as the liquid becomes clear.
  • When you reach this boiling stage, gently boil it for 1 minute further.
  • Add the drained cherries and bring to a simmer.
  • Allow to cool.

Assembly:

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  • Divide the pastry into two – one ⅔ and one ⅓.
  • Roll larger dough out to 3mm thickness (any thicker and the dough will rise too much when baking).
  • Line a pie dish with the pastry, and dock the base with a fork to retard the rise.
  • Chill for 10 minutes in fridge (it must chill to retard the yeast activation).
  • Add the cherry filling, evenly.
  • Roll the remaining dough to 3mm thick. Cut into 7mm strips.
  • Make a woven lattice over the top of the pie.
  • Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. If the top browns too quickly, temper your oven down to 180°C after 15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool on a tray and then transfer to a platter.