Pear, chocolate, hazelnut & wattleseed tarts with wattleseed custard

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Preparation info

  • For

    8

    individual tarts
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

Wattleseed powder comes from Australia and it has a taste similar to coffee. In fact, in the townships of Northern New South Wales you can buy what most espresso fanatics would consider the biggest insult to the coffee bean - wattleccinos. These are cappuccinos made with soy milk and wattleseed - I think they’re great, albeit quite hippie at heart. Commercially, wattleseed is made by roasting and grinding the edible seeds of the acacia tree. Acacias are to be found around the world in temperate climates, but around three-quarters of them are native to Australia. If you can’t find the powder then these tarts are also really tasty when made with ground coffee beans instead.

Ingredients

  • 4 pears, peeled and halved lengthways
  • ½ juicy lemon, sliced into 6
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1 heaped Tbsp ground wattleseed (slightly less if using coffee)
  • 500 g puff pastry
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 80 g chocolate (40-75% cocoa butter), melted
  • 30 g roasted skinless hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 250 ml cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted

Method

Preheat oven to 220°C. Remove seeds from pears using a melon bailer or teaspoon and place pears in a pot with the sliced lemon and sugar. Cover with just enough water to immerse the pears. Place a cartouche on top and bring to a boil. Turn to a rapid simmer until the pears are cooked (20 minutes). To test them poke a skewer into one - it should go through easily. Once they’re cooked add two-thirds of the wattleseed to the poaching liquid and then leave them to cool.

While the pears are cooking, roll the pastry out into a rectangle 40 x 24 cm. This should be enough for eight pear halves unless your pears are really large, in which case roll it bigger. Beat one egg yolk and brush on the pastry, then place in the fridge until the pears are ready.

Mix the chocolate with the hazelnuts and half the remaining wattle-seed and put to one side. Once cool, take pears out of the syrup, draining any syrup from them, then lay them, cut-side up, on a tray. Fill cavities with the chocolate mixture. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Strain the syrup then reduce it to 150 ml. Add the cream and remaining wattle-seed and bring to a simmer. Whisk the remaining egg yolks then pour on the hot cream, whisking continuously, then return to the pan and cook out to a custard. The lemon in the syrup will thicken the cream quite quickly and it may look like it’s going to split, but it won’t. Once it’s cooked, pass through a sieve into a clean bowl and sit a cartouche on top to prevent a skin forming.

Take the pears and the pastry from the fridge and sit the pears evenly over the pastry, 4x2, cut-side facing down. Cut around the pears leaving a 1.5-cm border. Fold the borders in towards the pears to form a ridge then place on a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush the pears and the pastry with the melted butter then bake in the top half of the oven until the pastry is golden (20-25 minutes).

To Serve

Place a warm tart on your plates and spoon the custard around it. This is also delicious served with lightly whipped cream to which you’ve added a little icing sugar and vanilla extract.