A favourite dessert recipe from Australian Delicious magazine is the Spanish Pear Tart with Pedro Ximenez Syrup, from the June 2010 issue. I tell you, this is the yummiest dessert in the world and it’s even better if your husband will make it for you, like mine did!
It is a bit fiddly and requires some planning as you need to leave the pears to soak up the flavours overnight, but it is well worth the wait! It has a gorgeous Marscapone filling and crumbly almond pastry, juicy pears and then it is topped with a simply lovely syrup. Paul decided to make one larger tart instead of the individual little ones, because we didn’t have six cute little loose-bottomed tart pans.
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Pedro Ximinez sherry (a sweet Spanish sherry)
1 1/3 cups (200 g) plain flour
100 g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
1/3 cup (30 g) almond meal
1 tsp ground aniseed *optional
1/2 cup (75 g) icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (250 g) mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup (70 g) thick Greek-style
melted chocolate, to drizzle *optional
Peel, halve and core pears, leaving stems intact. Pare 2 strips of rind from lemon and set aside, then halve lemon and rub over the pears to keep them from browning. Place sugar, rind, cinnamon, vanilla pod and seeds in a pan with 1 1/4 cups (310 mL) water. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add sherry and pears, then cover surface closely with baking paper cut to size. Increase heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes (depending on ripeness of pears) until pears are tender. Chill pears in the liquid overnight.
The next day, place flour, butter, almond meal, aniseed and 2 tbs icing sugar in a food processor with 1/2 tsp salt. Process until mixtures resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg and vanilla and process until it comes together in a smooth ball. Wrap pastry in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Grease six 10cm loose-bottomed tart pans. Divide dough into 6 pieces, roll out to 3mm thick, then line the pans with dough. Chill for a further 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 C. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice, then blind-bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights (or rice) and cook for a further 3 - 5 minutes until pastry is crisp and golden. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, remove pears from syrup and transfer syrup to a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for 15 - 20 minutes until thick and syrupy. Cool. Slice each pear lengthways almost to the top, leaving the stem-end intact.
Combine mascarpone, yoghurt and remaining 1/3 cup (50 g) icing sugar, then spread into tart cases. Place 2 pear halves on top, fanning out slices, then brush with the reduced syrup just before serving. (Brush? We poured it on!)