Some flavor combinations are just too good to mess with and I’m talking here of the delightful trinity of pears, chocolate and hazelnuts. Whether in cake or tart form, they just go so well together I frankly disregard any other addition or seasonal variation as you can easily find them all year round and appreciate their winning fusion as much on a cold winter night as on a hot summer afternoon.
This not-too-sweet tart is an all-around pleaser, great hot or at room temperature, and has the universally loved pairing of crisp pastry, moist chocolaty filling and sweet/soft pears topping with just a hint of toasted hazelnuts. True, it is slightly more time consuming than your average dessert but totally worth it when you’re in the mood to get your baking hands dirty and whip up something that can be consumed any time of day!
Chocolate, Pear and Hazelnut Tart
Recipe from Food and Travel magazine
Active time: 1hr
Total time: 1h45
Makes 8-12 slices
For the chocolate shortcut pastry
225g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
125g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
85g golden caster sugar (or superfine sugar)
For the sponge dough
45g unsalted butter, at room temperature
90g golden caster sugar (or superfine sugar)
1½ teaspoon baking powder
90g plain flour
For the chocolate and hazelnut cream
90g dark chocolate, finely chopped
90g milk chocolate, finely chopped
180ml single (light) cream
40g shelled hazelnuts, roughly chopped and lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
For the filling
1 large pear, halved and cored
20g shelled hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons apricot jam, to glaze (optional)
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/Gas 3.
To make the chocolate shortcut pastry, put the flour, cocoa, butter and sugar in a mixer and pulse until you get crumbs.
Add the egg and mix again. Take the dough out of the mixer and bring together into a ball. If you prefer, you can make the dough by hand, but it’s easier to do this if the butter is grated or very finely chopped. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll with a rolling pin until 3-4 mm thick.
Line a greased 23cm loose-based fluted tart tin with the pastry and trim the excess dough neatly around the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
To make the sponge dough, put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix with an electric whisk to combine. Mix in the egg and baking powder with the whisk, then gently fold in the flour by hand until evenly combined.
To make the chocolate and hazelnut cream, put the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil over low heat, stirring frequently. Pour into the mixing bowl and whisk until you get a smooth cream, then stir in the hazelnuts. Gently fold the sponge dough into the chocolate mixture and mix well. Remove the tart shell from the fridge and pour in the chocolate and hazelnut cream.
Cut the pear into about 12 slim wedges and arrange in a circle on top of the tart filling. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. To check if it’s ready, insert a skewer into the center of the tart – if it comes out clean you can take it out of the oven. If not, you can leave it in for a few more minutes.
Put the apricot jam, if using, into a small saucepan and heat gently until melted and runny. Brush the jam roughly over the tart (avoiding the hazelnuts) with a pastry brush and leave for a few more minutes before serving.