17 September 2012

Blackberry and Spicy Boozy Pear Tart

As far as experiments go, I have to say this was a very successful one. I love baking but don't often attempt other things than sponge cakes. But inspired by GBBO, I decided to have a go at pastry and came up with this rather delicious little thing. I wanted to use pears and thought it could be interesting to poach them in something alcoholic, like when you do wine poached pears as a dessert. Instead of wine I used spice rum which gave the whole thing a warm, gorgeous taste, and as I used quite firm pears, cooking them took the edge off that crunch. To add extra spice I chucked in some whole cardamom pods too. On their own, the pears tasted quite alcoholic, but together with the creme patissiere and the pastry, they were amazing.

250 gms Plain Flour
125 gms Butter
1 tbsp Sugar
A pinch of Salt

3 Pears
A punnet of Blackberries
2 dl of Spiced Rum
10 Whole Cardamom Pods

400 ml Milk
1 Vanilla Pod
3 Egg Yolks
80 gms Sugar
25 gms Plain Flour
4 Tbsp Corn Flour

First make the pastry. Blitz the butter and flour in a mixer until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar and salt and work it with your hands until it holds together. Shape into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the pears. Wash them and cut them into halves, remove the stalks and cores then slice them thinly. Put the rum in a saucepan, add the pears and cardamom pods and place over a medium heat. Simmer very gently for around 10 minutes, although this will depend on how firm the pears are - bite into one to check they have the desired texture. Turn the heat off and leave the pears in the liquid to cool down.
Roll the pastry out a floured surface. Line your tart tin with the pastry and prick the bottom with a fork. Cut a circle of greaseproof paper out, line the tart with it and put some baking beans on top. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees or until the pastry is a light golden colour.
For the creme patissiere, pour the milk into a saucepan, add the vanilla pod and heat it up until it is almost boiling. Mix the eggs, sugar, flour and corn flour in a bowl. Add the warm milk gradually, mixing in between to ensure there are no lumps. Pour everything back into the pan and put it over a medium heat. Stir continuously until it thickens. Pour into a bowl and immediately place some clingfilm over the top to prevent a  thick skin forming. Leave to cool.
To assemble, fill the pastry case with the creme patissiere. Drain the liquid from the pears, then arrange them neatly on top. Put some blackberries around the edge and dot another few on top of the pears. Carefully remove the tart from the tin - serve and enjoy!

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