Chocolate Pear and Almond Tart
find it here at Wandering Spice
find it here at Wandering Spice
I have to admit.
I have not baked anything in 3 months. This is quite unusual for me. I got into the kitchen as a baker. I remember making pretzels with my older sister when I was barely capable of reaching the counter. In contrast, cooking was pressure cookers and this heavy cast iron dutch oven full of oil-my mother wisely kept me away. When I grew older, I began baking bread (despite not actually being someone who consumes a lot of bread). Even when I could really only use the kitchen after dark, I still baked pies and cakes (at 11 at night).
So how is it that I've managed to spend 3 months only using my oven for roasting vegetables? Thessaloniki, it seems, has bakeries on every corner piled up with tempting cookies and breads and chocolates and baklava....
It has taken the knowledge that I am to move again, perhaps to a flat without a proper oven, as well as this bottle of homemade vanilla extract with its letter pressed label my friends made and I carried, well wrapped, across an ocean. And a guest.
I don't really know how I've become this person. I'm now practically a 1950s hostess. Freshly baked tart on my pristine kitchen counter, floors gleaming, everything laundered and scrubbed and arranged. I could have sworn it was only a year ago I'd be hiding my laundry basket somewhere I hoped my guest would not snoop, failing to remember where it was that I stashed a fresh bar of soap and imagining my Mediterranean matriarchs standing over my shoulder shaking their heads and hands in despair over the streaks on my windows and dust bunnies in the corners. They'd still not be happy (I decided not to sweep out the balconies today unlike the other women in the neighborhood in their heavy winter coats) but perhaps they'd be less in despair and more just disapproving of the one cobweb in that out of reach corner.
Anyway, this is a show stopper of a tart. The pears lined up beautifully along the rich chocolate base...gorgeous. And also, quite effortless if you have faith in your tart/pie crust skills (please excuse the raggedness of my crust-my oven fails to inform you of any interval between 150-220C, shrinkage occurred). A simple tart base, blind baked, and a filling that dirties only one pan. I brought it to work and my co-workers demonstrated a previously unknown grasp of American sports compliments.
You need: flour, butter, water, dark chocolate, almond meal (or if you're me, crushed almond slivers), 2 eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract
-Make the tart dough by cutting cold cubed butter into cold flour, then adding just enough ice water to form a dough.
-Knead lightly, flatten into a disc, wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
-Preheat to 180C.
-Roll the dough out into a circle and put it into your pan.
-Blind bake-aka, filled with parchment paper weighed down with something, like beans-for about 10 minutes.
-Lower the oven to 170C when you take it out.
-Meanwhile melt some butter and chocolate slowly on the stove.
-Take off heat and whisk in the almond meal, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
-Beat in eggs.
-Pour into your blind baked tart base.
-Slice and arrange your pears (I used a pear and a half.)
-Bake for about an hour, rotating midway through until semi firm.