Recipe: Bake Off Steph’s tempting autumn dessert

PUBLISHED: 18:10 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:21 04 September 2020

Chocolate, pear, orange and hazelnut frangipane tartlets. Photo by Steph Blackwell

Chocolate, pear, orange and hazelnut frangipane tartlets. Photo by Steph Blackwell

Steph Blackwell

Cheshire Life columnist Steph Blackwell shares her indulgent recipe to use up those seasonal pears

I was struggling to think of a recipe this month; I wasn’t lacking inspiration, in fact, the opposite, I had too many ideas and couldn’t make my mind up. This basically sums up my life in terms of my inability to make decisions; forever seeking perfection and thereby incapable of commitment! After much pondering…. and a series of experi-bakes, I settled on this little wonder-bake that will undoubtedly raise your spirits for autumn.

It all started with some pears that I found lurking in the fruit bowl, perfectly in season at this time of year; they seemed like a good starting point. But I also wanted some real comfort – the kind of ‘curl up on the sofa with a blanket, and a sweet delight’ comfort. To fulfil this requirement, I settled on frangipane – an absolute favourite of mine. So now it was just a case of melding the two; after an initial attempt, I chose to switch out the almonds, traditionally used in frangipane and replace them with roasted ground hazelnuts; the perfect counterpart to juicy pears – this took things up a gear for sure. For the pastry, I had to include some chocolate, just a hint, but pears and hazelnuts call out to be married with chocolate, so it had to make the final cut. Finally, and with a real risk of going ‘too far’ with additions, I decided to add a hint of orange in the form of orange zest and a dash of Grand Marnier. Well, as far as I was concerned, I hadn’t gone too far, recipe nailed!

This one captures the spirit of the season. Enjoy!

Chocolate, pear, orange and hazelnut frangipane tartlets

INGREDIENTS

For the chocolate pastry

190g plain flour

20g cocoa powder

100g cold unsalted butter, cubed

60g caster sugar

1 large egg, approx 50g

For the hazelnut frangipane

125g unsalted butter, room temperature

125g caster sugar

125g ground hazelnuts

1 tbsp Grand Marnier, or juice from an orange if alcohol free

Zest of a small orange

2 eggs, approx 100g

1-2 pears

To decorate

25g dark chocolate

Love a fruit dessert? Why not try Steph’s fabulous fruit streusel?

METHOD

Combine the flour, butter, cocoa and sugar in a food processor and pulse to fine breadcrumb consistency, alternatively do this by hand. Add the egg and pulse again until the mixture starts to come together to form a dough – don’t over mix. Remove from the processor, bring together into a smooth dough. Wrap tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Prepare a muffin tin by lightly greasing each hole and dusting with a little flour – tap off any excess.

Once rested remove the dough from the fridge, allow to soften slightly for around 10 mins before liberally dusting work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out to around 2-3mm thick. Use a 10-11cm cookie cutter and stamp out 12 rounds – re-roll if necessary.

Gently work the dough into each hole of the muffin tin – trim any excess with a sharp knife. Dock the bottom of each pastry case with a fork and return to the fridge for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.

Once chilled, line the pastry cases with parchment and some dried rice or baking beans and bake for 10 mins before removing parchment and beans and dropping temperature to 160C fan for a further 10 mins. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the cases to cool fully in the tin.

Meanwhile prepare the frangipane filling. Beat the butter, orange zest and sugar in a freestanding mixer or with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and Grand Marnier or orange juice a little at a time – don’t worry if it curdles slightly. Fold through the ground hazelnuts.

Slice the pear into rings – use a 4cm cookie cutter and trim the rounds if they are a bit large to fit the muffin tin.

Once the pastry cases are cool, increase the oven temperature back to 180C fan. Divide the frangipane mixture equally among the pastry cases. Place a sliced ring of pear on top and bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes or until the frangipane starts to brown around the edges but the middle remains slightly soft. If, after 15 minutes, they appear to be browning too much, loosely cover with some tin foil for remainder of baking time.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 mins in the tin. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a Baine Marie and pipe or drizzle chocolate over each tart. Serve warm with crème fraiche or cream, alternatively, transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before drizzling with chocolate for a neater finish.

Steph will run the virtual London Marathon on October 4th with her uncle, and former leader of the RAF Red Arrows, to raise money for Cancer Research UK. ‘My Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer midway through lockdown and it’s been a massive shock and an emotional few months, complicated further by COVID. I know our circumstance is not unique and many others have similarly suffered this year and charities in general have been heavily compromised by the pandemic; we are therefore hoping Our Marathon Mission appeal gets support. Visit fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/johns-giving-page-826 to donate.

Latest from the Cheshire