When Emma and Simon visited for dinner on Saturday night, Michael did most of the dinner work, while I typically pondered on dessert. I was pretty keen on this chocolate and pear tart from Jules' stonesoup, but wasn't psyched about pre-roasting pears (although I must admit they do look incredibly good!). A brief wander around the internet turned up another pear and chocolate tart (this time from Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini) and I enthusiastically wrote up a shopping list after a glance at the procedure. That 'glance' meant that I didn't actually notice that this tart is served from the fridge, not the oven! Not quite what I had in mind on a winter evening, but still comforting enough when paired with a cup of tea.
I had a few nervewracking moments at each step: it was difficult to press the crust evenly into my dish, and then work out when it was ready to come out of the oven. (It took 5 minutes less than Clotilde's, and was a teensy bit burnt around the top edge.) Then I worried that I had over-cooked my chocolate and that the ganache would be lumpy, though it eventually glided into the dish without a hitch. The pears, which were firm and perhaps a little under-ripe, took an extra 10 minutes of poaching to soften completely. I slid the tart into the fridge several hours before our guests arrived, sure that the frazzling bits were over and I could enjoy their company without nagging kitchen thoughts.
Unfortunately, when it was time for my work to be unveiled, this bugger of a tart wouldn't slice. My puny arm muscles couldn't get it to budge, and Michael managed to dig chunks of it onto our plates instead (he's not big on delicacy). Clotilde credits the crust as her mother's no-fail recipe, but I think I failed at it. I certainly should have greased the baking dish more throughly, but I don't think my problems stopped there. Nevertheless, the chocolate ganache filling had the deep, bittersweet taste of the 70% cocoa Lindt that went into it and a smooth, buttery texture. The rich, barely sweet ganache and the syrupy sweet pears were not just complementary, they needed each other for balance. They make this a dessert worthy of trial, error and eventual perfection. Thankfully Emma and Simon are willing to weather the trial and error, and I'm no longer too proud to show them that I'm short of perfection.
For the recipe, visit Chocolate & Zucchini.