The 5th challenge in the Freshly Blogged competition had all the bloggers excited because it was a sweet challenge for a change. Personally, I was thrilled as this was just what I had been hoping for! The ingredients list was a cook's dream, with a myriad of recipe options to choose from: Amarula cream, dark chocolate, pears, blanched almonds and cream crackers. The challenge also stipulated that the dish had to include a custard based recipe. The hardest part of the challenge was deciding what dish to make! In the end I decided on a pear and rosemary tart, filled with almond praline pastry cream and served with a chocolate Amarula drizzling sauce.
We were allowed to omit one ingredient and add one of our choice. Although I had a few ideas for the cream crackers I decided not to incorporate them into my final dish. My additional ingredient was rosemary which I added to the pastry. Although this might sound a bit strange this flavour really does work in the dish, adding a subtle savoury tone to an otherwise sweet tart. The custard component of the dish came in the form of a luxurious almond praline pastry cream. I was a bit nervous about making the pastry cream as I haven't made one in years, but it was much easier and quicker than I remember, and the addition of the almond praline gave it a lovely, nutty richness.
This has been my favourite challenge so far and I thoroughly enjoyed creating this dish. The tart does require a bit of effort and time, but it isn't difficult to do. It's perfect for that special tea or dinner party when you want to wow your guests! The tart is best served at room temperature and will keep in the fridge for a few days.
If you like my recipe please click HERE to vote for it in the Freshly Blogged challenge! There is an Amarula hamper up for grabs, so get voting!
PEAR, ROSEMARY & ALMOND PRALINE TART WITH CHOCOLATE & AMARULA SAUCE
Makes 1 large rectangular tart (Serves 8)
For the rosemary sweet pastry:
150g butter, room temperature
80g castor sugar
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
10ml finely chopped fresh rosemary
For the almond praline pastry cream:
90g castor sugar
2 tablespoons water
50g blanched almonds
4 egg yolks
80g castor sugar
40g plain flour
For the poached pears:
4 tablespoons castor sugar
3 pears, peeled, halved and cored
For the chocolate Amarula Sauce:
80g dark chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Amarula
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)
To prepare the pastry:
Step 1.) Cream the butter and castor sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix to combine.
Step 2.) Sift in the flour and salt and mix to form a dough. Tip the dough onto your work surface and sprinkle with the rosemary. Knead a few times to incorporate the rosemary and to make a smooth dough.
Step 3.) Flatten the dough into a disc shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the tart. (The dough should be left to chill for at least an hour.)
To make the almond praline pastry cream:
Step 1.) Grease a small baking tray and pallet knife well.
Step 2.) Put 90g castor sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and allow to cook until the syrup is a deep golden colour.
Step 3.) Add the blanched almonds, give the mixture a quick stir then tip onto the greased baking tray. Use the pallet knife to flatten the mixture.
Step 4.) Allow the mixture to cool before breaking into chunks and chopping by hand. Then use a food processor to grind to a powder. Set aside in an airtight container.
Step 5.) Whisk the egg yolks and 80g castor sugar together until pale and creamy. Sift in the flour and whisk.
Step 6.) Heat the milk in a saucepan just until boiling point. Remove from the heat. Slowly add half of the milk to the egg mixture while whisking continuously.
Step 7.) Add the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Bring to the boil while whisking. Allow to cook for a minute until thickened then remove from heat.
Step 8.) Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with a piece of clingwrap to prevent a skin forming. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the pears:
Step 1.) Place the castor sugar and water in a saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar.
Step 2.) Add the pear halves making sure they are covered in water (add additional water if needed). Cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until the pears are tender.
Step 3.) Drain the pears and set aside to cool.
To assemble and bake:
Step 1.) Grease and lightly flour a 36cm x 12cm tart tin. Roll the dough to a 5mm thickness. Carefully lift and lower into the tin and press in. Use the rolling pin rolled over the tin to cut away excess pastry and neaten the edges. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180°C while the dough is resting.
Step 2.) Cover the pastry with a piece of baking paper weighted down with dry beans and blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 6 minutes. The pastry should be just cooked but still pale.
Step 3.) Fold the ground almond praline into the pastry cream. Spread a layer of pastry cream over the base of the tart. Next, place the pear halves rounded side up in the tin (you may only need 5 halves). Dot the remaining pastry cream around the pears.
Step 4.) Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin and serving.
To make the chocolate Amarula sauce (can be made just before serving):
Step 1.) Place the dark chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the milk to boiling point, then pour over the chocolate. Whisk well until the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth sauce. Whisk in the Amarula.
Dust the cool tart with icing sugar, slice and drizzle with chocolate Amarula sauce to serve.