Sunday, 7 October 2012

Pudding Emergency!

Required at short notice to provide a pudding for today's lunch, I fell back on a favourite which can be conjured up pretty quickly from mainly storecupboard ingredients.  This is, I suspect hardly the 'proper' way to make frangipane, but hell, it works for me.  If it's easy and it tastes good, I'm one very happy Distracted Housewife!  The shop-bought sweet pastry cases are a storecupboard staple (actually, they live in the bread bin) and I cannot see that there is any point in being snobbish about them; while I never buy shortcrust pastry in the supermarket because I find it easy to make, I always buy puff and filo because, you know, eek!  Sweet pastry also gives me the heebie-jeebies, I have never managed to get the desirable shortbread texture without everything disintegrating into infinitesimal crumbs like, well, shortbread...

Tinned pears (in juice, never syrup for my tastes) happen to be a fruit that I keep in the cupboard habitually as I love their grainy texture.  They are wonderful with whipped cream or ice-cream and a quick, hot, chocolate sauce as a very basic Poires Belle Helene (which, after holidaying in the Loire Valley as a youngster, remains for me the most respectable way to fill a crêpe).  Pears and chocolate is a classic combination for me; hence the chocolate included here (although you can happily leave it out if the idea doesn't fill you with the greedy excitement that it does me!).  I would have rather like to have a scoop of ice-cream with this pudding today, rich yellow in colour and flecked with vanilla seeds, but sadly no amount of praying to the freezer could force some into existence so we 'forced it down' without...

Pear and Almond Tart with Chocolate

1 ready-made sweet pasty case from the baking aisle at the supermarket
50g dark chocolate, grated or very finely chopped (I used the processor)
1 tin of pear halves in juice, drained
2 eggs, beaten
80g each butter, ground almonds and caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180ºc.  Put your unwrapped pastry case onto a baking sheet.  Scatter the chocolate over the bottom of the pastry case.  Thickly slice each pear half widthways, but keep it 'together', as it were, and arrange them on top of the chocolate.  Melt the butter and stir in the ground almonds and sugar. Mix in the eggs, forming a nubbly paste with the consistency of double cream.  Gently (although this is a counsel of perfection for me, being both clumsy and impatient) spoon and spread this over the pear-and-chocolate filled pastry case and pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Take it out and leave it to rest for a few minutes as this is SO much better warm than hot.  Any leftover slices (ha!) are perfect with a cup of tea later, but don't put them in the 'fridge, something awful seems to happen to them if you do!
Cath xx

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