HAVING been weaned on whizzed up tin pears and condensed milk as a nipper I have a sort of fuzzy sensation inside me when I eat desserts with pears in, even eating them straight out of the tin with a little of the juice just fills me with comfort.

But pair the pear with frangipane and chocolate and you'll have such a glamour's combination that really does excites me with the almond cream bridging the gap betwixt them perfectly and which I can definitely say is a match made in heaven, and never outplays each over.

This marvellously simple to make French classic tart with its deceptively complicated appearance, and perfect showcase of ingredients is such an elegant recipe to make which will be fitting for any dinner party or family celebrations.

Pear perfection, I have seen lots of posher recipes poaching the pears in red wine before baking them in the frangipane, but I simply add mine raw form the tin, they do cook beautifully I may add.

If you do have ripe pears in your fruit bowl by all means, peel, core and half them instead, but do recommend dipping them in a little lemon juice before baking to prevent discolouring - and to be honest I find fresh and poached pears to have that melting texture when baked than the tinned variety and I do so feel no shame in recommending them in this recipe.

Most kitchen cupboards I bet bereft tinned tomatoes nor tinned pears, which also saves you all the hassle of peeling and cutting up the pears. Frangipane or frangipani? as its also called. Good question.

To put it succinctly, is a common French filling for tarts, but as the name suggests, its originally from Italy, a meaning of ''break the bread'' it's a rich cream made up of simple ingredients of butter, sugar, eggs and ground almonds, but frequently flavoured with other nuts like hazelnuts or pistachios nuts.

The filling is also egg-based, which puts it in the custard family and that's about as specific a definition as I can come up with, because truth be told 'frangipane' is one of the most varied substances used in all pastrydom.

I like to add a little flour with mine to get a much, much firmer batter and more cakey texture having a nice firm tart crust, which works extremely well with pears, though purists will point out to me and prefer no flour at all, but experience adds, added insurance and prevents against breaking in my recipe book.

The filling itself is a fairly neutral flavour but can be flavoured with alcohol such as brandy or rum, you can top the tart with just about any fruit you like in season.

When it bakes the frangipane turns into a glorious, puffy, golden cloud enveloping whatever type of fruit you might decide to top with.

Once bake shower with icing sugar and serve hot or cold in big wedges with a little crème fraiche or a dollop of cream. Enjoy, Buon appetite!

Pear and chocolate frangipane tart - (serves 8-10 portions)


100g / 4oz dark Belgium chocolate, melted

150g / 5oz softened butter

150g / 5oz caster sugar

150g / 5oz ground almonds

50g / 2oz self-rising flour, sieved

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tins of pears or 4 fresh pears, halved and peeled

Handful of flaked almonds

1 teaspoon icing sugar, sift

500g / 1 lb ready-made puff pastry block


1. Preheat the oven to 170c / gas mark 5 and place a large flat baking tray in the middle of the oven.

2. Melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water or flash in a microwave oven.

3. Place the softened butter, ground almonds, sugar, flour and eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon or electric whisk.

4. Roll out the puff pastry to 3cm / 1 inch thick using a little flour to overlap a 32cm / 12'' fluted oblong flan dish or similar round tin.

5. Press firmly into the corners and sides and prick the base lightly with a fork trimming off the edges.

6. Spoon all the frangipane mixture into the tart, working it around the outsides before working towards the middle of the pastry case.

7. Drop spoonful's of melted chocolate on top of the frangipane and draw the tip of a sharp knife through the mixture to lightly marble.

8. Arrange the pears around the tart, cut-side down, with pointy ends towards the middle.

9. Press gently into the mixture and bake on top of the hot baking tin in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

10. Then scatter flaked almonds on top and reduce the heat to 160c / gas mark 4.

11. Continue to bake for a further 25 minutes until firm to touch and nicely risen (if the tart begins to colour fast cover loosely with foil).

12. Cool in the tin, shower with icing sugar before serving warm or cold in big wedges with crème fraiche or fresh cream with a cup of coffee.