Monday, 7 July 2014

Pear, Raspberry and Honey Frangipane Tart

Last summer I spent a great deal of time condensing all the recipes on scraps of paper I had lying around into one, very satisfying folder (it has sub sections and everything, don't be too jealous). I did this partly out of boredom and want of something (anything PLEASE) to do, and partly because I hoped that if I ever wanted to try something new, I could just open this delicious folder, and be inspired.

Post-A-Level Catrin was a touch optimistic. Moving away from home and all its comforts, coupled with a dire Uni kitchen and the realisation that cake isn't actually all that great for you (shocking, I know) meant that I wasn't able to delve into the collection as often as I'd have liked over the past year. Nonetheless, when my parents needed a dessert for a dinner party a few weeks back I thought it would be a perfect place to start.

Though the British weather is infuriatingly unreliable, we are definitely heading into a period of less rain and cold, so it would seem. Taking this as a thumbs up that spring was in full fledge and summer on its way, I was looking for something lighter to accompany the chocolate cake I was sending my parents along with. I'd never tried frangipane before per se, not being a great lovcr of almonds and a detester of bakewell tarts I thought it would be kind of pointless. But, for some reason, I was drawn to the frangipane.

Maybe my taste buds have matured, I don't know, but the end result was delicious. The original recipe called for cherries, but they were out of season so I had to improvise in asda and get canned pears and raspberries. It turned out divine. The addition of a tiny bit of cardamom gives the tart a wonderfully exotic flavour, and lends a fresh taste to the dessert. Laced with honey and almonds to finish, the tart has a perfect balance of sweet and slightly savoury, crunchy and smooth. It looks impressive and is great eaten hot or cold, with cream, ice cream or custard.

Pear, Raspberry and Honey Frangipane Tart

500g sweet shortcrust pastry
plain flour for dusting
8 small pear halves, fresh or tinned in juice, drained
lemon juice for brushing pear halves
honey for drizzling
100g raspberries
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
100g self raising flour
100g flaked almonds
1tsp ground cardamom (best to grind your own in a pestle and mortar if you can, just bash the pods and remove the seeds inside, then crush to a fine powder)
2 large eggs

1. Roll out the pastry until it is big enough to comfortably line a 23cm tart tin. Carefully list the pastry into the tin, leaving any extra hanging over the sides. Prick the base of the pastry lightly with a fork, sit the tin on a baking sheet and leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour.
2. Heat the oven to gas mark 6. Line the chilled pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans (or, if you don't have these, use rice or pasta like me, just be sure to throw it away after), then put the tin in the oven and bake blind for 15 minutes, then discard the baking paper and rice and bake again for another 10 minutes until the pastry is biscuity. Reduce the oven temperature to gas mark 3 and trim off any excess pastry.
3. Toast the almond slices gently in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, swirling the pan and it's contents regularly until the nuts become golden brown.
4. Beat together the butter, ground almonds, flour, eggs, cardamom, and 3/4 of the flaked almonds until well combined. Dollop into the cooked pastry case and spread to fill evenly.
5. Push the pear halves cut side up into the frangipane, and brush with a little lemon juice. Scatter the raspberries over the top and push these down a little too. Scatter with half of the remaining almond slivers and return to the oven for 50 minutes to one hour until the filling is risen, golden and firm to the touch. Drizzle with honey and top with the rest of the almonds before serving.

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