This was a week packed with punches and kicks! It included my foray into the world of kickboxing, I’ve been in desperate need of a more spelled-out and defined workout schedule and I hope this new athletic venture of mine filling that gap. It feels more like winter than fall in Washington, the sudden drop in the 50s and the relentless rain is making me moody. What does get me through this kind of weather, is the smell of the warm oven while I bake and hot tea at any time of the day! The oven seemed to beckon, to make this cold and wet weekend enjoyable and warmer. Having recently purchased several autumn Bartlett pears, the urge to bake a pear flan with an almond and chocolate filling seemed hard to ignore this weekend. I modified a tart recipe from my copy of the The Essential Baking Cookbook.
I had chopped almonds in the pantry but if you can find pre-ground almonds, that will work as good. This pear flan is best served chilled after at least 2 hours of baking. I used my food processor to save time on making the dough. I have also found that making pastry dough with frozen versus chilled butter produces a much lighter and flakier crust. Rolling out the pastry dough between cling wrap or parchment paper makes it easier to handle the dough, without having to flour the surface that could make the pastry dry.
almond and pear chocolate flan
yield: 6-8 servings (9″ inch tart)
For the Pastry
1 1/4 cup flour
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
a little extra butter for greasing the tin
For the Filling
1 stick unsalted butter or 150 ml vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup melted unsweetened dark chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup ground raw almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3 ripe peeled, cored and sliced (length-wise) Bartlett Pears
1. Attach the dough blade to the food processor and pour in the flour and cubed butter. Pulse till the flour resembles a crumbly mixture.
2. Pulse in the sugar, followed by the addition of the egg yolks, one at a time. Remove the dough ball from the processor and wrap it in cling wrap and leave it to rest for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease a fluted tart tin with a little butter. Cut a circle of baking/parchment paper equal to the size of the base of the tart tin and line the bottom of the tin with it. Remove the dough and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper to form a 14 inch circle. Now, remove the top layer of the parchment paper from the rolled out dough and line the tin with the dough. Remove the other layer of parchment paper and using the rolling pin trim off any excess dough from the edges of the pan. Lightly proof the pastry surface with a fork to let any trapped air exit during the baking process. Cover the surface of the pastry in the tin with dry uncooked beans or pie weights. Bake the pastry shell for about 10 minutes. Remove the beads and then bake the pastry for an additional 5 minutes. Let the pastry shell cool for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
4. To prepare the filling, cream the butter and sugar by beating in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs individually. Pour the melted chocolate and mix it in the filling mixture. Now fold in the ground almonds and flour. To the cooled pastry shell, gently pour in the pie filling in an even layer. Arrange the pear slices on the surface of the filling and bake the tart for about 30 minutes or till the center is firm. The pears will caramelize a little during the baking process. Allow the tart to cool to room temperature in the tin and then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool for another hour or till firm before it can be served. Using a sieve, dust the surface lightly with sweetened cocoa powder and icing sugar.