Pear, Chocolate & Gingerbread Frangipane Tart

Method

  1. TO PREPARE
  2. Step 1: First thing’s first, get the oven preheated to 150°C/140°C fan/Gas Mark 2. As that’s getting warmed up, place the sugar and water into a small saucepan and set aside.
  3. Step 2: Peel and halve the pears, then cut each half into 3 slices. Removing the core and any pesky pips as you go.
  4. Step 3: Plop the sliced pears into the saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then allow to cool in the pan.
  5. FOR THE GINGERBREAD
  6. Step 4: Now to create the ultimate Christmassy gingerbread aroma to waft through the house! Place the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and stir the mixture over a low heat until melted and smooth. Allow to cool in the pan to blood temperature (that’s the point at which you can comfortably hold your little finger in the mixture for 15 seconds!)
  7. Step 5: Sift the flour, ginger, all spice, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled syrup in and break in the eggs. Mix it all together and you should end up with a satisfyingly squidgy smooth dough.
  8. Step 6: Give your work surface a sprinkling of flour and roll, roll, roll your big blob of dough into a nice even pastry of around 4mm thickness. Once you’re happy, carefully take your rolled gingerbread dough and use it to line a 10inch diameter flan/tart case.
  9. Step 7: Any extra dough you tear off around the edges won’t go to waste! We’ll use them to make the star decorations later, so roll them up and keep them. Pop the tart case in the fridge to keep nice and chilled until it’s ready to fill.
  10. FOR THE FILLING
  11. Step 8: Grab your Dark Chocolate and break it up into chunks. Then, pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat on the hob until almost boiling. Once the cream is simmering away, add the chocolate and butter and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 1 minute before whisking all together to a smooth silky consistency, then whisk in the eggs and Almond Extract.
  12. Step 9: Weigh the sugar, almonds, flour and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and then whoosh! Whisk them all together to a smooth batter.
  13. Step 10: Pour the batter into the prepared pastry case then decorate with the pear slices, placing the them in a fan shape around the edge of the tart with the thinner end of the pear facing the centre of the tart.
  14. Step 11: Pop in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the frangipane has risen and set. You’ll know it’s done when the centre is firm to the touch.
  15. Step 12: Transfer the tart to a cooling rack and allow to cool in the tin.
  16. FOR THE DECORATIONS
  17. Step 13: Wahoo, time to turn this bake into a centrepiece! Turn the oven up to 170°C/160°C fan/Gas Mark 3 and line a baking tray with parchment.
  18. Step 14: Remember those leftover gingerbread trimmings we kept aside earlier? Roll them to 4mm thickness and then using cookie cutters or a knife, cut into star shapes. A range of small medium and large look best!
  19. Step 15: Transfer the stars to the baking tray then cut smaller stars out of the centre of the larger stars. (This is so the stars keep their shape, they’re harder to transfer once the centres are cut out.) Re-roll the dough and cut out more stars if necessary.
  20. Step 16: Pop into the oven and bake for a quick 12-15 minutes until deliciously golden.
  21. Step 17: Transfer the tray to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  22. TO ASSEMBLE
  23. Step 18: Carefully lift the Frangipane tart out of the tin and place onto a serving dish, ready to be decorated.
  24. Step 19: Once you and the bakes have had time to chill, it’s time to get your glitter on! Spray the gingerbread stars with gold shimmer spray - some entirely and some just around the edges. You can build up the colour by spraying some stars twice for a deeper colour.
  25. Step 20: Now arrange your larger stars with cut out middles around the edges of the tart, then the smaller stars towards the centre. Stand a few stars up and around the edges of the tart to create a 3D effect.
  26. Step 21: Add a scattering of raspberries over the tart and place the lavender leaves around the edge - tucking them under the gingerbread stars.
  27. Step 22: Finally, pop a giant chocolate star into the centre of each star with the centre cut out and ta-dah! You’re all done. Now that’s what we call the star of the show! Keep refrigerated until everyone’s ready for dessert on the big day and then watch how your twinkly tart makes everyone’s eyes light up around the table!

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