500g pack sweet shortcrust pastry
125g ground almonds
100g good-quality cocoa powder
125g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
3 large free-range eggs
Apricot jam, sieved, to glaze
Flaked almonds, to decorate
Icing sugar, to dust
(sh)For the mulled pears
250g caster sugar
200ml red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
3 large, ripe Williams pears
1. Make the mulled pears the day before you want to eat (or freeze) the tarts. Put the caster sugar, wine, cinnamon and 100ml water in a large saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved to make a syrup.
2. Peel the pears and add whole to the simmering syrup. Poach for 10 minutes, turning occasionally, then set aside to cool in the syrup. Once cool, chill in the syrup overnight.
3. The next day, preheat the oven to 180°c/fan160°c/gas 4. Line 6 x 10cm loose-bottomed tart tins with the pastry and chill in the fridge.
4. In a bowl, mix together the ground almonds, cocoa and caster sugar. Add the butter and beat together until well mixed. Gradually beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
5. Fill the pastry cases with the chocolate almond cream. Remove the pears from their syrup (discard the syrup) and halve lengthways – keep the stem intact. Slice across on a slight angle, not cutting all the way through. Place a pear half on each tart.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the filling sets and the pastry is pale gold. Gently heat the apricot jam in a small pan. Brush the pears with jam to glaze. Decorate with flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream.
- Freeze these tarts by making the recipe up to the end of step 5, then freeze them for up to 1 month. Bake from frozen for 40 minutes.