White Wine Poached Pear and Chocolate Ganache Tart with Almond Sweet Pastry

Yield: 1 10” tart or 12 individual (1 ¾ oz each)

Almond sweet pastry crust

250 g flour
75 g sugar
pinch salt
50 g ground almonds
170 g butter, cubed and chilled
1 egg
1 tsp rum

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and almonds in food processor
Add butter cubes and process until mealy
Add egg, yolks, and rum and process until dough comes together
Turn out and knead lightly
Pat into disc
Wrap and chill for 1/2 hour
Roll out into a 12 inch circle and line a 10 inch tart shell with a removable bottom
Chill thoroughly

Preheat oven to 350 F

Dock and blind bake for 35 minutes, until fully cooked and golden brown
Set aside until needed

White wine poached pears

2 cups white wine
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 inch piece ginger, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 star anise
6 peppercorns
1 tbsp fennel seed
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
6 pears, peeled, halved, and cored

Bring all ingredients except pears up to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to develop flavour
Add pears and simmer until tender, 20-40 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the fruit
Remove with a slotted spoon, and place in a shallow dish
Pour poaching liquid over and allow to cool to room temperature
(pears may be poached and refrigerated for a few days in advance)

Ganache filling

2 cups pear poaching liquid
1 cup whipping cream
250 g dark chocolate, chopped

Reduce poaching liquid until it measures 1/2 cup and is thickened slightly (it should look like liquid honey in colour and viscosity) Keep warm
Place chocolate in a medium bowl
Scald cream and pour over chocolate, mixing well to melt.
Add reduced pear liquid and whisk well, making sure there are no lumps (you can set the bowl over a pan with a small amount of hot water if necessary to aid in the melting process)
Pour filling into prepared tart shell and set in fridge to set.
Once filling is firm, remove pears from liquid and pat dry ( I usually blot them lightly on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel)
Slice thinly almost all the way to the stem end and fan around tart (stem end should point towards the centre)
Allow to chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
If you like, you can reduce the remaining poaching liquid as before and use the glaze to either brush over or use as a sauce