Two Tone Pear and Almond Tart

I made this as part of a bring your own New Year’s Eve Party and with the wonderful mulled, Christmassy flavours of the poached pears it worked a treat. A long thin tart like the one I made looked impressive but you could just as easily make individual tarts as squares or circles with one or two pear halves depending on how greedy your guests are. I poached the pears a day in advance and left them to soak up the mulled wine flavours overnight.

This serves about 10-12

6 smallish ripe pears
1 lemon
500ml white wine
500ml red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
250g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
100g butter
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
Icing sugar

Start by taking two saucepans. Put the red wine in one and the white in the other. To each pan add 100g of the caster sugar, a few strips of lemon zest, half the vanilla pod and one cinnamon stick.

Now peel the pears, leaving the stalks on if you prefer. Halve and core them then place six halves in the red wine and six in the white. Gently bring to a simmer and poach for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool (or overnight).

For the almond filling cream together the remaining 50g of caster sugar with the ground almonds, egg yolks and vanilla essence.

Heat the oven to 180C.

Take the ready rolled pastry and cut in half lengthwise to make two long strips. Place on a large lined baking tray and score round the pastry about 1cm from the edge. Prick the middle with a fork then bake for about 12-15 minutes until starting to brown. Remove from the oven, press down the middle gently then spread the almond mixture evenly over the middle sections of each pastry base.

Carefully remove the pears from the poaching liquid, pat dry with kitchen roll and place on the almond covered base – alternate red and white or make one white and one red tart. Brush the pears with a little of the poaching liquid then return to the oven for about 15 minutes until the almond base is set and starting to brown. Remove from the oven, brush a little more poaching liquid onto the pears – be careful as too much and the colour will bleed into the tart.

Dust with icing sugar and serve with warm custard or with whipped or pouring cream – maybe with the addition of a splash of brandy.

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