Gooey chocolate frangipani with spiced mandarin infused pears encased in biscuity pastry. This is an autumn party tart in an Ironclad Pan!
To celebrate this public holiday I thought I’d pull out a tart recipe I dreamed up as a young chef in London back in the early 90’s. Retrieving it from my memory thrust me happily back in time to those glorious years spent in the kitchen under Peter Gordon’s culinary gaze and his infectious love for life. Peter released my inner chef and made me feel anything was possible, in the kitchen and beyond. Thanks Pete!
If you’ve got time to spare and a special party to celebrate, this tart is worth every minute of the effort. Make the pears and the pastry ahead then finish it all off on the party day.
2 c plain flour
¼ c icing sugar
2 tsp mandarin zest (2 medium mandarins)
1 tsp ground cardamon
120 g very cold butter cut into small cubes
1 egg beaten
A squeeze of mandarin juice
In a food processor lightly pulse flour, sugar, mandarin zest, cardamom and butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
Add egg and pulse again, then add a squeeze of mandarin juice until the dough forms a ball. Don’t over pulse!
On a lightly floured bench, gently form the dough into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm or a bees wax cloth and chill for an hour or until you want to roll it out. (Never ever knead the pastry).
Dust your bench with flour and roll dough into a circle that is just slightly larger than your Ironclad Pan.
Butter the skillet and gently lay the dough inside leaving a 1cm overhang on the pie. Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges by running a knife around the rim.
Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork and chill uncovered in the fridge for 30mins.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Remove your skillet from the fridge and line the uncooked pastry case with grease proof baking paper. (You’ll need to use 2 pieces as the skillet is slightly wider than one piece of baking paper) Fill the skillet right up to the top with dried beans, rice or baking weights and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven and pour the rice or whatever you have used back into its container. Now bake the pastry for a further 5-10 minutes until the base is light golden brown and fully dry.
Leave to cool.
ROASTING THE PEARS
7 medium and firm Bosc Pears
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp cardamom pods - lightly crushed to expose seeds
¼ c brown sugar
¼ c mandarin juice
Zest of 2 mandarins
½ tsp salt
4 bay leaves
Peel whole pears. Half them and remove core and stems.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
In your Ironclad Pan, melt the butter with cardamom pods and let it bubble on a very low heat for 2 minutes to release the spice. Add the brown sugar and simmer for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat and add mandarin juice, zest and salt.
While the skillet is still hot, and working quickly, nestle the pears into the skillet brushing the butter mixture on the top of the pears as you go. Tuck the bay leaves in and finish with a grind of black pepper.
Pop the hot skillet into the hot oven and roast for 10 minutes. The pears should hold their shape and still be slightly firm.
Remove pears from skillet and chill. Save remaining syrup for later use. How good does that taste!
Clean and cool your skillet.
150 g butter
150 g 70% or more dark chocolate
3 large eggs
½ c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
180 g ground almonds, lump free.
2 Tbsp cacao or cocoa powder, sifted.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water. Leave to cool as you prepare the following.
In a cake mixer beat eggs, sugar and vanilla essence together for 5 minutes till frothy.
Fold in ground almonds and cacao and lastly fold in the melted chocolate and butter.
200 g orange marmalade.
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Spread the marmalade evenly over the bottom of the cooled pastry.
Lay pears core side down on top of marmalade.
Pour frangipani mix over the top of the pears and bake for 35 – 40 minutes till the frangipani is set. Jiggle the skillet and if it doesn't wobble, it’s set!
Remove from oven and cool for 3 - 4 hours. Or not! This pie is delicious served warm but will cut much better when cooled.
Dust the tart with cocoa or cacao powder and serve with lashings of crème fraiche, sour cream, or whipped cream and some extra mandarins slices.