I love it when a dish is born from musings as to how to use leftovers in combination with store cupboard and freezer stuff to create something delicious.
It all started with the poached pears left over from my French galette which were sitting in the freezer, patiently awaiting their fate.
I always have ground almonds in stock and often make an apple tartlet with ground almonds under the apples to soak up any excess juices and help the pastry stay crisp. So I thought that would work great with pears too.
Especially as the combination of pears and almonds is a real classic, immortalised in the famous French Tarte Bourdaloue.
Pears also work great with chocolate. Cool, as I still had lots of chocolate left over from my light and airy Belgian Chocolate Mousse. So pears, almonds and chocolate. So far so good.
Now then. A crisp warm tartlet would be beautifully offset by a cold ice cream and something warm and sticky to drizzle around So thoughts initially turned to a classic vanilla ice cream and the quick-fix chocolate sauce I made to go with my whole orange, almond and chia cake.
But both needed cream. Which I didn’t have. What I did have, was frozen whole milk, as I keep meaning to try out the yoghurt making facility of my new multicooker, but just don’t seem to get round to it.
So I settled on David Lebovitz’s chocolate sorbet, which has no dairy or eggs. But you’d never know, as it’s surprisingly creamy and SOOooooooo chocolaty!
And David Lebovitz’s salted butter chocolate sauce, which makes good use of the excess salted butter that had been destined for flavoured butters for an evening of stone grilling that got postponed..
I also dug out raw cacao, Natvia and coconut palm sugar. So the only thing I actually had to buy, was puff pastry, as I used my last lot for the baked Camembert.
You may not be so lucky, but it is worth making this nonetheless, as these flavours all work wonderfully together.
I served this as part of a “Flavours of Autumn” menu.
Squashed Pear Frangipane Tartlet, Chocolate Sorbet and Salted Butter Chocolate Sauce
These dishes would not look out of place on any festive Christmas menu.
Squashed Poached Pear Frangipane Tartlet (serves 4 – V RSF)
This is a variation on a BBC recipe that I’ve made a few times. It’s very nice served with custard or a dollop of vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche too, if you don’t fancy the indulgent chocolate route. Or serve only with the salted butter chocolate sauce, omitting the sorbet, or the other way round.
If you want less prep and cut down on butter and sugar, you can just use some ground almonds instead of the almond, sugar, egg and butter mix (known as frangipane). Then again, this dessert is never going to be low fat, is it.
This makes much more frangipane than you need. So you can either halve the frangipane ingredients, or make the lot and use it to create other sweet treats. A few dollops folded into left over puff pastry with some apples gives a shop bought apple danish a good run for its money. Or spread onto a halved croissant or teacake and toast under a hot grill for breakfast.
You can go fancy with poaching pears and use a dessert wine like sauternes, add rosewater and all sorts of aromatics such as star anise, cloves or saffron. For serving in this dessert though, I suggest to keep things simple.
I did mine in the sous-vide for 45 mins at 75 C, just with some honey in the bag.
A sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
25 gr of coconut palm sugar or golden muscovado sugar
for the poached pears
2 firm pears, peeled but left whole
125 gr honey
A few pieces of lemon or orange zest
A split vanilla pod or cinnamon stick or both
450 ml water
For the frangipane
100 gr ground almonds
100 gr butter
25 gr coconut palm sugar or golden muscovado sugar
For the poached pears:
Dissolve the honey in the water in a small pan. Add the zest, vanilla pod or cinnamon stick. Partially cover and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium-low for about 5 mins.
Lay the pears down in the sugar syrup you’ve just created, partially cover and simmer for 30-40 mins, or until the pears are tender. Turn them over halfway through if they are not fully immersed in the liquid, so they cook evenly
Drain, reserving the liquid.
The poached pears can be eaten warm or cold.
You can re-use the poaching liquid or reduce it to simply serve with the pears in a bowl or glass.
Or you can serve the pears with the salted butter chocolate sauce.
For the tartlets:
Heat the oven to 210 C
Make the frangipane by mixing the butter with the egg, almonds and 25 gr of the sugar.
Cut 4 rounds out of the pastry using a small bowl or plate to guide your knife (about 10-12 cm diameter). Prick the middle of each a couple of times with a fork to prevent it from rising too much.
Place the disks on a baking sheet. Spread each with a generous tbsp of the frangipane, leaving a border on the outside.
Thinly slice the pears, around the core. Arrange the slices on top of the frangipane.
Chill for minimum 15 mins.
Cook the tartlets for 8-10 minutes. Remove, sprinkle liberally with the rest of the sugar. Then place baking parchment and another tray on top. Flip the trays, so that the tartlets are now upside down on the 2nd tray, keeping the first tray on top and return to the oven for 8-10 mins, or until crisp and golden.
If you haven’t got a 2nd tray of similar size, just cook the tarts pear side up all the way. They’ll still be lovely, they just won’t be squashed.
It’s best to assemble and bake these just before serving. But because of the almonds, the pastry won’t go too soggy if you assemble them ahead, keep them chilled and then bake just before serving. Or you can cook them in advance and reheat in a 180 C oven for 10 mins.
Cover with a little aluminium foil if the tartlets are colouring too much.
Use any left-over pastry and frangipane to make delicious apple and almond turnovers.
Chocolate Sorbet (makes about 1 ltr – GF V Vg RSF)
No dairy, no eggs and no refined sugar. It’s incredible how good chocolate and water can produce such creaminess without much effort at all.
This provides a seriously bitter chocolate hit, so I would not opt for a chocolate with cocoa solids higher than about 60%. You could also add a little more sugar.
I added all the water at once by mistake this time AND forgot the blender step. I don’t know what the physics are behind these steps. All I know is that this time the sorbet was much harder for much longer after removing from the freezer. So although it sounds a faff, best to stick to each step as provided I guess.
555 ml water
200 gr Natvia or an unrefined sugar
75 gr unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao powder. Just make sure you don’t use drinking chocolate powder!)
A pinch of salt
170 gr quality dark or milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used 54% Callebaut N811 nibs)
½ tsp vanilla paste or extract
Whisk together 375 ml of water with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a pan. Bring to a boil whisking frequently. Let it boil over medium-high heat for 45 secs, whisking continuously.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s melted. Then add the vanilla and the remaining 180 ml water.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 15 seconds. This homogenises the mixture. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If the mixture has become too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, transfer to a shallow roomy storage container, cover and freeze. Whisk and stir it through every couple of hours or so to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Remove from the freezer in plenty of time before serving, as it takes a fair while to soften. I got impatient and put it in the microwave for a few minutes. Bad mistake as you can see in the pics. Chocolate sorbet soup tastes nice too though…
Salted Butter Chocolate Sauce (makes 500 ml – GF LC V Vg RSF)
This is a very easy luscious sauce that perks up any ice cream, cake or dessert with a serious chocolate hit.
250 ml whole milk
85 gr salted butter, cubed
45 gr coconut palm sugar or light brown unrefined sugar
230 gr dark or milk chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut 54% N811)
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
A pinch of sea salt
Heat the milk, butter and sugar in a saucepan until it begins to steam.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, vanilla and salt. Stir gently until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Reheat the sauce by putting the jar in a pan of very hot water, or warm the quantity you need in the microwave in short bursts on medium high, checking each time to make sure it does not split due to the butter content.