Rachel returns to Skibbereen in West Cork for a special Christmas episode of Rachel's Coastal Cooking, in the Lake Lodge of the Liss Ard Estate.
She visits the fair trade town of Clonakilty to meet Allison Roberts of Clonakilty Chocolate. Allison uses alternative sweeteners and creates chocolate from cocoa beans imported from small farms in Ghana. Rachel tastes some of her chocolates, including one featuring sea salt and seaweed. They make truffles for a chocolate sleigh. And Rachel takes some chai chocolate to use in her chocolate and pear tart – a rich alternative to a traditional Christmas pudding.
Watch Rachel's Coastal Cooking at Christmas on RTÉ One at 7.30pm, Monday December 16, 2015.
For the pastry
- 250g (9oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 125g (4½oz) unsalted butter, diced
- 1 egg, beaten
- For the pears
- 3 medium pears, not too soft, peeled, quartered and cored
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- For the chocolate
- 200g (7oz) dark chocolate
- 150g (5oz) unsalted butter
- 2 whole eggs, plus 3 egg yolks
- 40g (1½oz) caster sugar
- To make the pastry, sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add enough of the beaten egg to bring it together to form a dough, reserving any leftover egg for later. Lightly flour the worktop. Turn out the dough and pat into a round, about 1cm (½in) thick, then cover with cling film and place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes (or it could be refrigerated overnight, or frozen, too).
- You will need a 25.5cm (10in) tart tin with a removable base, with sides 3cm (1¼in) high. When you are ready to roll out the pastry. Remove it from the fridge and place between two sheets of cling film (each larger in size than your tart tin). Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry out to no thicker than 5mm (¼in). Make sure to keep it in a round shape as well as large enough to line both the base and the sides of the tin.
- Remove the top layer of cling film, slide your hand, palm upwards, under the bottom layer of cling film, then flip the pastry over (so that the cling film is now on top) and carefully lower it into the tart tin. Press the pastry into the edges of the tin (with the cling film still attached) and, using your thumb, “cut” the pastry along the edge of the tin for a neat finish. Remove the cling film and chill the pastry in the fridge for a further 30 minutes, or in the freezer for 10 minutes (it can keep for weeks like this, covered, in the freezer and can be cooked from frozen, but will take an extra couple of minutes to cook).
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas mark 4.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and line with greaseproof paper or baking parchment, leaving plenty to come just above the sides of the tin. Fill with baking beans or dried pulses (all of which can be reused repeatedly), then place in the oven and bake “blind” for 20 – 25 minutes until the pastry feels almost dry on the bottom. Take out of the oven and remove the baking beans and aper. Brush the bottom of the pastry with the leftover beaten egg, if there is any, then bake for a further 3 minutes without the paper and beans, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.
- Meanwhile, put the pears in a saucepan with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with a disc of baking parchment and a lid and cook gently on a medium–low heat for 20 – 30 minutes until tender. Slice the pears thinly and arrange in a single layer over the baked pastry case when ready – arrange these nicely as they may be visible once the tart is cooked.
- Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Don’t allow the water to get too hot or the chocolate may burn. Take the saucepan off the heat once the water comes to the boil and leave the chocolate and butter to slowly melt. While the chocolate is melting, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar for 5 minutes until fluffy. Then fold in the melted chocolate and butter mixture.
- Cover the pears with the chocolate mix and bake in the oven for 7 minutes exactly. It will look slightly unset when it comes out, but will set as it cools, over the next hour.
- Once the tart has cooled, serve in slices with some softly whipped cream.