Stargazey pears

I first saw this Chocolate Pear Tart recipe in May’s  The Observer Food Monthly and squirreled it away.   On my way into work on Thursday I picked up some more asparagus from the Farmer’s Market and these gorgeous pears from The Real Food Store.   If you recall, I already had designs on an Asparagus & Roquefort Tart.

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Then I thought, ‘Hmmm . . .  each tart serves 8.  Steve + I = 2.’  Luckily we have friends living just down the street and around the corner that we can message on Facebook and implore to come over and help us out with a couple of tarts.

So we had a last minute, ad hoc dinner party on Saturday night .

I forgot to take photos of the Asparagus & Roquefort Tart (which was lovely) so I promise to make it again before the end of asparagus season.  We also had a bottle each of New Zealand and Austrian Pinot Gris which I shall report on in due course.

But onto the chocolate one!

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Pears not Pilchards

Alistair pointed out that it looks very like a  Stargazey Pie  – a Cornish dish of pilchards baked under a pastry crust, with fishheads poking through the crust as though gazing skywards! The pie originates from village of Mousehole where fisherman Tom Bawcock once saved fellow villages from starvation through a record catch in stormy seas. The fish were baked poking out to prove there really were fish inside the pies.

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Chocolate Brownie and Pear Tart

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Makes 8 portions

For the poached pears

  • water 1 litre
  • sugar 250g
  • lemon juice of½
  • pears 8, whole and peeled

For the brownie filling

  • dark chocolate 185g
  • butter 185g
  • large eggs 3
  • light brown sugar 275g
  • cocoa powder 40g
  • white chocolate buttons 100g (optional)

For the pastry base

  • flour 240g
  • soft butter 180g
  • water 60ml
  • salt a pinch

You will also need a 28cm tart tin*

To make the pastry, place the flour on a work surface. Make a well in the centre and add the salt and soft butter. Slowly bring the flour into the centre and mix with your fingertips to a crumbly texture. Then add water and work the dough with the palms of your hands till smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Once the pastry is chilled, roll out the dough to 4mm thick and line the tart tin, making sure all the sides are pressed in so it sticks against the side eliminating any air bubbles. Leave a slight overhang all around the tin and blind bake at 200C/gas mark 6 with baking beans, till a lovely golden colour.

To cook the poached pears, place the water, sugar and lemon juice into a medium pan and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Place the whole, peeled pears in a pan with enough syrup to cover them before adding a piece of greaseproof paper (with a hole in the middle to allow the steam to escape). Bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes or until the pears are tender. Cool in the syrup.

To make the brownie, melt the dark chocolate and butter over a bain-marie. Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk until white and fluffy, then pour the melted chocolate mixture over. Next add the cocoa powder and fold in with a plastic spatula. Possibly add the white chocolate buttons and mix.

A quick word about the buttons.  I used Green & Black’s dark baking chocolate and cocoa for the filling.  We got Nestlé Milkybar white chocolate buttons from the Moreton Co-op.  Inferior chocolate from an evil company.
I forgot to add them and I don’t think the recipe suffered one bit.  So my advice is to add buttons at your discretion.

chocolate pear1

Spoon in the chocolate mix into the pie shell. Cut the pear in two, across the middle, so you have a top and bottom section and push the eight tops around the outside of the tart. Next, core out the middle of the bottom sections and cut into two pieces. As you will have too much pear you will only want to use half of the bottom pear sections for this recipe. Cut in two again before adding to the centre of the tart and between the tops.

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Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/gas mark 4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or less if you like it gooey in the middle.

* I also misread the pan size and used a 23 cm instead of a 28 cm one.  With the resulting leftover filling, I made a small pan of chocolate pear brownies which I sent home with one of our guests.

We offered a choice of clotted cream or double cream with the tart.  It was pretty darn good!

chocolate pear4

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