This is an old favorite in our house. It has been through many incarnations and can be adapted to suit your mood. Sometimes I bake it for much longer than indicated below (it’s better firmer if it’s to be served warm), and sometimes I put a layer of Seville orange marmalade on the crust before adding the pears. This version uses a variation on the ganache theme, substituting custard sauce for cream in the ganache. The whites of the eggs are whipped and added at the end to give an even airier effect. The whole thing is much lighter than the cream-based ganache version. The dough can be made the day before, or a larger quantity can be prepared well in advance and frozen.–Chantal Coady
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 2 H, 30 M
- Serves 8 to 10
- For the chocolate pastry
- 2 3/4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup very fine flour, ideally 00 (Italian doppio zero), plus more for dusting the pan (See note)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, roughly cubed, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 large egg yolk
- For the filling
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 10 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped in food processor until the consistency of bread crumbs and just beginning to melt
- 3 large or 4 small ripe but firm pears, preferably Bartlett
- To decorate and serve
- Cape gooseberries, optional
- Whipped cream, crème fraîche, or vanilla ice cream
- 1. To make the pastry dough, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, and confectioners’ sugar. Place in a food processor with the butter and, using the metal blade, mix until fine crumbs form. Add the egg yolk and pulse gently until you have a lump of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or so.
- 2. When the dough is firm, heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and generously butter and flour the bottom and side of a round, removable-bottomed 10-inch tart pan that’s 1 1/2 inches deep. Roll the dough out and then line the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry if the dough breaks; it can easily be repaired. Roll out the trimmings of the dough and use them to line the side, pressing the dough into the corners. The top edge of the dough can be very thin and left with a rough finish; it will have an attractive lacy look when baked. Prick all over with a fork and bake 15 minutes; set aside to cool on a wire rack.
- 3. To make the filling, first prepare a custard: Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl. In a separate pan, bring the milk with the vanilla bean to a boil, then whisk the boiling milk into the egg mixture with a large whisk. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens. If the mixture is not hot enough to thicken, return it briefly to low heat, but be very careful or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs! When you have a light custard (it doesn’t need to be too thick), pour it little by little onto the chocolate to make the ganache, as described here. Set aside.
- 4. Peel the pears, cut them in half, and scoop out the cores and stems. Arrange the pear halves on the baked tart shell.
- 5. Whisk the reserved egg whites in a clean bowl until forming soft peaks. Beat 1/4 of the whites into the custard, then fold the remainder in gently. Pour the filling into the pan, leaving a bit of the pears showing.
- 6. Bake about 30 minutes, or until risen and set to your taste. You can decide whether you want a soft filling or a firmer one, depending on how long you bake the tart; soft is best if serving cold, and a firmer set is better for serving hot.
- 7. Decorate with cape gooseberries and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with whipped cream, crème fraîche, or vanilla ice cream.