Chocolate & Pear Tart
July 20th, 2015 by Lesley

There is always time for chocolate and I think the tart meets the criteria.

Whats not to love about chocolate and sweet pears?

This recipe works well with poached pears or tin pears and the great thing about it, is that you don’t need to blind bake the pastry before baking (yeah).

If you use tinned pears, you can cut down the prep time and it will be melting of the chocolate and the freezing of the pastry in the tart tin that will take the majority of the time.

Chocolate & Pear Tart

Chocolate & Pear Tart









I have made this tart a few times now and it hits the spot every time.

This tart is wonderful with a wee cuppa, or as a nice slice served with vanilla ice cream for a very decadent dessert.

I had some friends around last week and decided that this would be the dessert of the evening, it was a major hit and I have been asked for the recipe, so I thought it was about time, I finally wrote it all up and you can all enjoy making it as well eating it.

Another great thing about this recipe is that you can make individual tarts, all the steps are the same, it is just the size of the tart tins that are different, place only 1 sliced pear in the tart tin and carefully pour the chocolate sauce around the pear and bake. Cut the time down to 30 minutes, checking at 20 minutes and then a 5 minute intervals.

You will succeed in impressing all your friends with this chocolate and pear tart, its relatively simple to prepare and looks and tastes fantastic.


Not the best pictures, so I will need to bake another one, even if it is just to take some new pictures.



Chocolate and Pear Tart
Rich decadent chocolate tart with sweet poached pears, ideal for a dinner party or with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
Servings Prep Time
8 People 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
70 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 People 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
70 minutes 30 minutes
Chocolate and Pear Tart
Rich decadent chocolate tart with sweet poached pears, ideal for a dinner party or with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
Servings Prep Time
8 People 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
70 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 People 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
70 minutes 30 minutes
Short crust Pastry
Poached Pears
Chocolate Custard
Servings: People
Short crust pastry
  1. In a food processor, add the flour and sugar and mix together.
  2. Add the pieces of cold butter on top and pulse until the largest pieces are the size of peas and the mixture looks crumbly.
  3. Working quickly, with the motor running slowly pour the egg into the dough and run until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of iced water.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter and knead lightly, just to incorporate the dry ingredients. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
  5. Butter a 10-inch/22-cm loose bottom tart tin. Roll the dough to slightly bigger than the tart tin (including the sides) . The dough should cover all the sides but not lose its crumbly texture (in other words, don't work with it too much or the pieces of butter will melt). Place the tart tin in the freezer for 1/2 hour.
  1. You can use canned pears or poach the pears as per the details.
  2. Peel, halve and core the pears. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tsp of vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  3. Gently place the pears in the water, (add more water if needed to completely cover the pears), lower the heat and place a piece of grease proof paper on top of the pears, simmer until the pears are just tender when pierced with a sharp knife (but not mushy), around the 10-15 minutes. Drain the water and set the pears aside.
Chocolate Custard
  1. Whisk the egg and the egg yolk lightly in a medium-sized bowl. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine.
  2. Pour the cream into a heat proof bowl and add the chopped chocolate, place in a double boiler (or a metal bowl set over a pot with an inch of gently simmering water so that the bowl bottom doesn't touch the water) melt the chocolate with the cream, stirring and folding with a heat-proof spatula to combine into a smooth and shiny ganache.
  3. Stir in the sugar and cook a few minutes more, until the sugar has melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. This warms the eggs, preventing them from cooking. Add the rest of the chocolate in a steady stream and stir to combine.
Assemble the Chocolate & Pear tart
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Remove the tart dough from the freezer.
  2. Carefully transfer your pear halves to a cutting board, carefully slice into thin slices, across the pear. Using a large knife or wide spatula, transfer the sliced pears to the pastry case, it should be equal distance between the rim of the pastry and the center of the tart. Once in place fan out the pear slices, press the wide end of the pear gently towards the narrow end.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture around the pears into the tart tin, (not on top of the pears). Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the chocolate custard is puffed and set (it will be firm to the touch and slightly cracked around the edges). Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the tart from the tart tin and slide onto a plate. If desired, brush the pears with a little bit of melted apricot jam to glaze and then sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Serve warm with lightly-sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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Chocolate fondant
February 14th, 2014 by Lesley

Chocolate Fondant, this is a favourite at theSecretGarden-France-cooking school, and is a fantastic dessert for you and that special person in your life or show off to your friends and family at your next dinner party. Although it looks difficult this is a classic that you can whip up in a hurry and wow your guests. This recipe makes 8-9 fondants and the fantastic thing is that you can freeze those that you don’t bake and you can cook from frozen, just add another 5 mins.


50g melted butter , for brushing
cocoa powder , for dusting
200g good-quality dark chocolate , chopped into small pieces
200g butter , in small pieces
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs and 4 yolks
200g plain flour

Makes 8 fondants


Can be frozen uncooked (just add an addition 5 mins)

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

First get your moulds ready. Using upward strokes, heavily brush the melted butter all over the inside of the pudding mould. Place the mould in the fridge or freezer, for 10-15 mins, remove and brush more melted butter over the chilled butter, then add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the mould. Tip the mould and roll around so the powder completely coats the butter. Tap any excess cocoa back into the jar, then repeat with the next mould.

Add some hot water to a pot and bring to the boil, lower to a simmer and place a heat proof bowl over the pot, make sure the bowl is not touching the water,  add the butter and chocolate to the bowl and slowly melt together. Remove bowl from the heat and stir until smooth, make sure you dont get any water into the chocolate as it will seize and unusable.  Leave to cool for about 10 mins.

In a separate bowl add the eggs, yolks and sugar, use an electric whisk and whisk together with until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail. Sift the flour into the egg mixture, then lightly beat together.

Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, until all the chocolate is added and the mixture is completely combined to a loose cake batter.

Tip the fondant batter into a jug, then evenly divide between the moulds. Chill for at least 20 mins or up to the night before. (*)

Place the fondants on a baking tray, then cook for 10 mins until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds, if needed leave for an additional 2 mins.

Remove the fondants from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 min before turning out.

Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Tip each fondant slightly onto your hand so you know it has come away, then tip back into the mould ready to plate up.

To serve, starting from the middle of each plate, squeeze a spiral of caramel sauce – do all the plates you need before you go on to the next stage.

Sit a fondant in the middle of each plate. Using a large spoon dipped in hot water, scoop a ‘quenelle’ of ice cream.

Carefully place the ice cream on top of the fondant, then serve immediately. Repeat with the rest of the fondants.


It is possible to freeze the fondants before they are cooked,  follow all steps above between 2 – 6, To bake from frozen, simply carry on as stated, from (*), adding 5 mins more to the cooking time.


Tins or ramekins?

The timings above are based on using aluminum muffin tins, but ramekins work just as well, then 12 mins in the oven will be fine.



Once you have mastered the fondants it’s very easy to adapt their flavour. For a boozy version add a generous splash of Baileys to the melted chocolate. You can also make a chocolate and orange version by adding the finely grated zest of 1 large orange and an optional splash of orange liqueur.


Posted in Desserts Tagged with:

January 28th, 2014 by Lesley

Ok, its not perfect, but I recon its not bad for the first attempt….



We hosted our Annual Burns Supper supperclub at the weekend. We had 17 guests joining us for dinner and 11 of them are French. They wanted to taste ‘THE Haggis’ ….. The French guests were coming along to celebrate the head of the family’s birthday (60th) and as such I was been asked to create a birthday cake for the end of the meal.

I was of course happy to oblige (any excuse for me to bake).

I had a look through a couple of my recipe books and a look on the internet, and I decided on a Chess cake, ‘if it works, it will look amazing, I just need to make sure it tastes amazing too’.

This recipe comes from ‘The Great British Bake Off, how to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers’. I of course have made a few tweaks and changes for this cake, (details below), that’s what its all about as far as I am concerned…… experimenting…

Lets begin.

On the outset this looks a difficult/complicated cake to make, but once you realise that it is only 3 sponge cakes that you need to make and then the filling and icing, it should take away some of the panic….

So 3 layers of sponge cake, I decided on dark chocolate and orange cakes. (Just a little twist on things)


3 x 23.5 sandwich tins, buttered and lined with baking paper

2 x piping bags with 1.5 cm plain tube, if you don’t have piping bags and/or tubes, you can put the mixture into large food bags and cut the point off when you are ready to use them, just make sure they are the same size of opening.


Sponge mixtures

410g unsalted butter, softened

410g caster sugar

410g self raising flour

6 large eggs, at room temperature and beaten

1 teaspoon Orange extract

5 tbsp milk

50g cocoa powder (for the chocolate mix)

Dark Chocolate Ganache

350g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

350ml whipping cream

Orange Butter Icing (variation on the original recipe)

125g unsalted butter, softened

400g icing sugar

3-4 tbsp milk

1 tsp Orange extract

To make the sponge cakes,

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

Weigh your mixing bowl before you start, you need this when you need to split the mixture into separate bowls. Put the butter into a large mixing bowl and using an electric hand whisk, start to whisk until the butter is thick and creamy. Gradually add in the sugar and orange extract. Keep beating until the mixture is lighter in colour and a nice fluffy texture.

Gradually add the eggs a tablespoon at a time, and ensure it is completely combined before adding the next tablespoon. Add a tablespoon of flour after each tablespoon of egg to ensure the mixture doesn’t curdle. If it looks like it is going to curdle, add more flour and just mix in, it will all come together.

Sift in the remaining flour and salt into the bowl and fold in the flour, ensuring all the flour is incorporated into the butter egg mixture.

Take half of the mixture (measure it out, weigh the total weight of your bowl with the mixture and subtract the weight of your bowl) and place in another mixing bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder and add 3 tablespoons of milk, and fold into the sponge mix until all combined. Place this into one of the piping/food bags.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk to the plain sponge mix and fold in until all combined.  Place into the other piping/food bag.


(sorry I forgot to take a picture before I placed the filled cake tins in the oven)





Take the sponge tins, pipe a ring of chocolate mixture around the inside edge of one tin, completing a full circle. Then pipe a ring of the orange mixture inside the chocolate ring and continue until the tin is full. Repeat this process for the second tin. For the third tin, start the outer edge with the orange mixture and then the chocolate mixture, so you have the opposite of the first two tins.

Bake in the oven for 20 mins until well risen and springs back to the touch. Check with a wooden toothpick to ensure there are no wet crumbs on the stick. Take the sponges out of the tins and leave on a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make Orange butter icing,

Put the soft butter into a mixing  blow and beat with an electric mixer until paler in colour and very creamy. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl. Add the mil and the orange extract. Beat on a low speed until smooth and thick. Set aside until ready to use, it is better to leave out of the fridge as you will need it to spread on the sponge cake.

To make the chocolate ganache

Pour the whipping cream in to a small pot and place on the heat. Warm the cream, but do not bring to the boil. Break the chocolate into smallish pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate pieces and allow to melt. Mix gently to ensure the cream and chocolate are fully combined and glossy. You will need to allow the chocolate mixture to cool for 1-2 hours (depending on the temperature of your kitchen), then take a hand mixer and whisk the chocolate mixture until you achieve the consistency you are looking for, it should be a thick chocolate spread, it will set more in the fridge late.

Assembling the cake

IMG_1387IMG_1389Take one of the sponge cakes with chocolate on the outer edge. Place on your serving plate.

Take the orange butter icing and work 1/2 of the mixture over the top of the first sponge.

Take the sponge with the orange outer edge and place on top of the butter icing, building the second layer of the cake, top this sponge with the remaining 1/2 of the orange butter icing and then top with the final layer of sponge. Place the fridge for 30 mins to help the cake to settle as it will be easier to apply the chocolate ganache.



Take the chocolate ganache and cover the top and sides of the cake, ensuring the layers are completely covered. Set aside for the ganache to set (not in the ridge).

I will be decorating with candles and cake sparklers, you can decorate with chocolate shards or sprinkles, let your imagination run riot…….

WOW it looks as good as I hoped.



Posted in Cakes & Fancies Tagged with:

Chocolate Fudge Brownies
January 19th, 2014 by Lesley

Chocolate Fudge Brownies








So this week I was invited to a friends house, she was hosting a Candle Party. A good excuse to have a few friends around for a nice afternoon, you can sit and enjoy the show,  do a little bit of shopping and of course for the host she can earn some money.

I thought ok, it could be a nice afternoon, but I did have a couple of reservations about the event……. I suffer from migraines and they can be triggered by smells, so that was number 1 reservation, number 2 was that my friend and most of her other friends are all French and so I would need to concentrate very hard as my french is not as good as it should be for the length of time I have been living in France.

Albeit I have tried a number of different ways to learn, including CD’s, watching french TV, an intensive week long course, working in Paris for 3 months and 3 different french teachers, you cant say I don’t try….. Anyway I thought I will try, it was very nice to receive the invite, the least I could do was go and appear to understand the proceedings.

As way of appreciation I offered to bake some goodies for the tea/coffee after the sales pitch had taken place and everyone was contemplating their options.

My instruction was that it was to be ‘small things, just for popping in to your mouth with your coffee’. Ok so I had a dig around and looked to see what recipes I had that met the brief.

My choices were, cookies, biscuits, cakes, muffins, cupcakes as we all know it there are lots of choices out there. So in the end I decided I would make a selection, 3 different things that could excite the taste buds and not take up too much of my time…. Gingernut biscuits, Shortbread custard creams and Chocolate Fudge Brownies…….

So this post is the details for the Chocolate Fudge Brownies, I will create other posts for the other bakes.


Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Makes 16, 30 mins prep, 50 mins cooking, 1 hr cooling


350g dark chocolate (60% cocoa) broken into pieces

250g unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 large eggs

250g dark muscovado sugar

85g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 160 C/Gas 3/Fan oven 140C.

Butter and line the base of a shallow 23cm/9in cake tin.

Melt the chocolate and butter together, either in a bowl over simmering water, or in a microwave, it is quite easy to use the microwave for this as the amount of butter will limit the chance of the chocolate burning.

(I place the butter and chocolate in a bowl and start on full for 30 seconds and continue with this until all the butter is melted and the chocolate is melting too, don’t worry about the butter not being completely melted at this stage as you can take it out and mix, the heat of the butter will continue the melting of the chocolate, if needs be you can put the mixture back in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and just mix again.)

Once you have the chocolate mixture ready, set aside to cool.

Whisk the eggs until pale, then add the sugar and whisk until thick and glossy and well combined. Gently fold in the melted chocolate mixture, then sift in the flour and baking powder and gently stir until smooth. You can use a hand whisk for this, but be gentle as you don’t want to knock the air out of the eggs.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Chocolate Fudge Brownies








Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 mins, or until firm to the touch, use a tooth pick to check if it is done in the centre, there should be a few moist crumbs sticking to it. (You want that sticky moist centre). The centre will firm up while it is cooling.

Cool the brownies in the tin for 1 hour, I know this will be difficult as the smell of the brownies cooking seems to get into every corner of the house, but honestly it will make all the difference to the finished product. (Honest)….

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Chocolate Fudge Brownies








Cut into 16 squares, but really it is up to you the size of the pieces you want to serve.

And all that is left to say is ENJOY….


I need to give credit to Good Food Magazine book, 101 cakes and bakes where i first found this recipe, it is a very handy little book, I have baked a number of recipes for it and tweaked them as I have gone along.

Posted in Cakes & Fancies, Vegetarian Tagged with: , ,