These little tarts are the perfect teatime treat for warmer weather, lovely and light with fresh summery flavours. Poaching the pears in Honey’s Midford cider before baking brings out their natural hint of booziness, and goes beautifully with the gentle sweetness of the almonds. Since you’re going the extra mile with the pears, there’s nothing wrong with a shop-bought pastry shortcut (although you could of course make your own if you prefer).
A note on ingredients: it’s better to make this with firm pears rather than really ripe, soft ones. If you fancy putting a twist on the tart, you could also try it with Honey’s Midford Stoney Bonk, a delicious mixture of cider and ginger beer.
Premade shortcrust pastry
Icing sugar for dusting
For the pears:
3 firm pears
A 500ml bottle of Honey’s Midford cider
120g caster sugar
A cinnamon stick
A vanilla pod
For the filling:
60g caster sugar
60g ground almonds
15g plain flour
1 tsp almond essence
Makes 6 individual tarts
1. First, roll out the pastry on a floured surface so it’s about 3mm thick, and then carefully line six fluted loose-bottomed tins. Neaten up the edges with a knife so they’re flush to the tops of the tins, then place the lined tins in the fridge while you do the rest.
2. Next, get the pears ready. Use a sharp knife or a potato peeler to remove the skin, leaving the pears intact with the stalks attached to make them easier to handle. Cut a little slice off the bottom of each one so they have a flat side to stand on.
3. Pour the cider into a medium-sized saucepan, add the sugar, and gently bring to the boil on the hob, stirring to make sure all the sugar is dissolved.
4. Once the cider comes to the boil, remove the pan from the hob. Add the vanilla pod to the liquid and then gently lower the pears in using the stalks. You may need to remove some of the liquid to be sure that the pan doesn’t overflow, but you must make sure the flesh of the pears is entirely covered.
5. Put the pan back on the hob, with a lid on, and simmer gently for half an hour, until the pears are just starting to become tender. Remove the pears and set aside to cool. (If you fancy, you can now take out the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod, and reduce the leftover syrup until thick enough to serve with the tarts – or you can just cool it and use it for cocktails, as it’s delicious. Whatever you do, save a bit of the syrup to brush the tarts with before serving.)
6. Now you can start preheating the oven, to 190˚C (180˚C fan). To make the frangipane, blitz the butter and caster sugar together in a food processor, then add the beaten egg, almonds and flour and blitz again.
7. Take your cooled poached pears and cut two sides off each one, to make six little domes, one for each tart. Fill each prepared tart tin about halfway up with frangipane, then lay a piece of pear on top in each one. Pop in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the frangipane is risen and golden.
8. Finally, to serve, brush the top of each tart with just a little bit of the poaching syrup, then scatter with flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar.