Iâ€™ve decided that I need to practice making desserts. I can make pies, cakes and cookies but dressing a dessert plate is something differentâ€¦so when I say I need to practice Iâ€™m not talking about a piece of pie with a dollop of whipped cream (can be beautiful as well though). What I mean is like Sam of Sweet pleasure : Plaisir sucrÃ© can do so beautifully. When I do try making a beautiful dessert I sort of know in my head what I want but somehow the positioning of the different components usually doesnâ€™t turn out well or they are too big for the plate. It just doesnâ€™t look elegant. Thatâ€™s why I prefer to do easy desserts like something served in a glass or a piece of pie or cake without (a lot of) garnish. Of course I could buy a good dessert book with beautifully dressed plates and just copy that…I might do that in the future but for now I’ll try to be creative myself. Last week I tried to make a beautiful dessert and I think I managed more of less…itâ€™s not gorgeous but I was satisfied with the results (the picture could have been better but I made it just before serving so unfortunately I didnâ€™t have any daylight). And as the saying goes: Practice makes perfect!
The centre of this dessert was the egg yolks that were a leftover from the cookies I baked last week (that didnâ€™t make it to my blog unfortunately). I found a tart pastry that called for egg yolk in Williams-Sonomaâ€™s Essentials of Baking. I wanted to keep the filling simple so I opted for the chocolate glaze recipe I always use for glazing cakes from Patricia Lousadaâ€™s Ultimate Chocolate book. At first I wanted to make a big tart but since I only needed four pieces of tart for dessert (and I didnâ€™t think it was a good idea to eat the rest of the tart in the following daysâ€¦.well to be honest, I did feel like eating it but it didnâ€™t seem like a good idea 😉 Anywayâ€¦I made tartlets instead of one big tart. I didnâ€™t feel like rolling out the dough so I just pressed it into 5 tartlet tins (1 extra just in case). I was inspired by Samâ€™s â€˜To make something out of nothingâ€™ entry for the other part of the dessert, the poached pears and the drops of poached liquid turned into syrup. I mixed and matched a few recipes for poached pear, added some ideas of my own and came up with the recipe that you can find below.
The combination turned out pretty good. Adriaan thought the tartlet was a bit on the sweet side. So if you like your chocolate to be bitter you can always opt to just use molten chocolate instead of the recipe below (for chocolate tempering guidelines search in this recipe, for bitter chocolate you should allow the chocolate to cool down to 32ÂºC (90ÂºF) instead of the 29ÂºC (84ÂºF) stated in the recipe for white chocolate).
325 ml (1 â…“ cup) red wine
150 ml (â…” cup) port
475 ml (2 cups) water
130 g (4 Â½ oz) sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
4 firm pears
Mix the wine, port, water, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil and allow the sugar to dissolve. Turn the heat down so the liquid is barely simmering. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler and rub them with lemon juice. Core them by sticking a small knife in the bottom and turning it round. Scrape the remaining core out with the knife. Put the pears in the poaching liquid and allow to simmer for 15-30 minutes (depends on the pears youâ€™re using). Test if the pears have softened by sticking a knife in the bottom. Allow the pears to cool in the poaching liquid.
Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and put them in a colander 15 minutes before you need them.
Reduce about 2/3 cup of the poaching liquid till it looks syrupy. Allow to cool. Use this to make the drops as seen on the picture.
100 g (3 Â¼ oz / Â½ cup + 2 tbs) flour
30 g (1 oz / Â¼ cup) icing sugar
â…› ts salt
63 g (2 oz / Â¼ cup) cold butter, cut into 2 cm (Â¾ inch) pieces
1 large egg yolk
Â½ tbs heavy cream
5 tarlet tins, bottom measuring 7 Â½ cm (3 inch)
Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the pieces of butter and toss them around so they are covered by the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Stop when the mixture looks like breadcrumbs the size of peas. Combine the egg yolk and cream in a small bowl and stir until blended. Add the egg yolk mixture to the dough and stir with a fork until it is mixed in and the dough comes together in a smooth mass.
Divide the dough in 5 pieces and push each piece in a tartlet tin. Allow the tartlets to freeze at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200ÂºC (400ÂºF). Line the tartlet crusts with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans, uncooked rice or pie weights. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is dried out and the aluminum foil doesnâ€™t stick to the dough anymore. Remove the foil and beans. Reduce the heat to 180ÂºC (350ÂºF). Bake about a further 5-10 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown. Transfer the tartlets to a wire rack and allow to cool.
75 g (2 Â½ oz) butter
Â½ tbs golden syrup or â€˜schenkstroopâ€™
100 g (3 Â½ oz) 70% chocolate
Put the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir until it is a smooth mixture. Pour into the tartlets and allow to set at least 1 hour.
Note â€“ there isnâ€™t enough filling to fill all 5 tartlets (the extra was just in case a piece of rim broke off)
To dress the plate
Position the pear and tartlet on a big plate. (Try to) Make a quenelle of sour cream, crÃ¨me fraÃ®che or Greek yoghurt. Use the syrup to make drops in different sizes (see picture).
1 plate â€“ 660 kcal
100 g – 260 kcal
carbohydrate 44 g â€“ protein 2 g â€“ fat 18 g (saturated fat 11 g) â€“ fibre 1 g