Saturday, 8 March 2014

Pear & Hazelnut Frangipane Tart

I have posted a number of frangipane tart recipes over the past few months, but the reasons for this are simple;- frangipane tarts are relatively simple to prepare, are extremely flavoursome and they keep well for a few days. Although classic frangipane is made with ground almonds, it is very easy to substitute other ground nuts and experiment a little. I love the combined flavours of hazelnut, pear and chocolate – they just go so well together; each bringing out the best in the other.

I use whole hazelnuts which I roast and remove the skins of before grinding to a relatively fine powder in my mini food-processor. Although ground hazelnuts are available in the shops to buy from time to time, I prefer to roast and grind my own because I think that the flavour is richer and nuttier.
 
Usually when I make pear frangipane tarts, I tend to use fresh pears but the problem is that if they are very hard, you need to poach them lightly before baking them in the tart or they may remain bullet-hard, or if slightly over-ripe they may disintegrate into a mushy mess on baking. In this instance I used pears tinned in their own juice and I think they worked a treat and gave a far more consistent result than the use of fresh pears would have given. I am all about producing tasty, but easy-to-prepare dishes, so I think that it is perfectly acceptable to take these shortcuts every now and again.

As already mentioned this tart keeps very well if cooled down and stored in an air-tight contained for a couple of days. I tend not to refrigerate it as I think that chilling dulls the taste a little, but if you feel more comfortable by all means do so. I should mention that this tart is truly delicious served still slightly warm from the oven with a scoop of ice-cream as a dessert.
 

Ingredients:

Pastry:
175g plain flour
50g icing sugar
100g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1tblsp cold water
Frangipane:
125 butter, softened
125g caster sugar
100g ground hazelnuts
25g ground almonds
2 large eggs
2tblsp plain flour
1tblsp Frangelico (optional)
To finish:
1 tin of pear halves in fruit juice, drained
3tblsp apricot jam
50g dark chocolate, melted

Method:

Make pastry:
1. Sieve the flour and icing sugar together into a large bowl. Add the diced butter and using your fingertips, rub into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of water and mix using a fork until everything comes together to form a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly to form into a ball. Wrap in cling-film and place in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
Make the frangipane:
3. Using a hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating thoroughly after each addition. Fold in the ground nuts and flour and mix through the Frangelico, if using. Set aside.
To finish:
4. Preheat the oven to 190C/Fan Oven 170C/Gas Mark 5. Roll out the pastry dough thinly and use to line the base and sides of a 35cm x 10.5cm x 2.5cm fluted, loose-based oblong tart tin.
5. Next spoon the frangipane mixture into the dough-lined tin and spread out evenly to the edges. Place the drained pears, cut side down into the frangipane mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 35-40 minutes until golden brown and slightly puffed up. Remove from oven and set aside to cool in its tin.
6. Heat the apricot jam with a couple of tablespoons of water in a small saucepan until bubbling. Remove from heat and sieve into a small bowl (this is to remove any lumps of fruit from the jam).
7. Brush the smooth jam over the tart. Finally drizzle the melted chocolate over the tart and allow to cool.

Serves 6-8.