4 DESSERTS. For those weekend moments when you want to impress

Smart idea

The whole pears will keep for 2 weeks in their poaching liquid in the fridge. Why not make a double batch and serve the remaining ones sliced with blue cheese?

Pear and almond tart

Description: Pear and Almond Tart-woman and home-recipes

A perfect way to end a meal, this is light enough not to leave you feeling too full.

Easy/ Prepare ahead – Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus chilling – Cooking time: 30 minutes – Server 8 to 10

·         375g (13oz) sweet shortcrust pastry (bought is fine)

·         4 pears, peeled

·         75g (3oz) caster sugar

·         300ml (½pt) dessert wine (we used Moscatel)

·         3tbsp apricot jam, to glaze

For the almond frangipane

·         200g (7oz) whole blanched almonds

·         150g (5oz) caster sugar

·         125g (4½oz) unsalted butter, softened

·         2 large free-range eggs

You will need

·         28cm (11in) fluted tart tin, and baking beans

Heat the oven to 190C, 170C fan, 375F, gas 5. To make the base, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tin, leaving an overhang of pastry round the top. Chill the pastry for 15 minutes then line with foil and baking beans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes until the bases is lightly golden. Trim the overhanging pastry to form a blunt edge.

Meanwhile, prepare the pears. Place them in a pan with the sugar and wine, add 300ml (½pt) water and gently simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the fruit has softened. Drain the fruit and slice each pear into 6, removing the core with a teaspoon.

To make the frangipane, whizz the almonds in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside. Whizz the sugar and butter then add the eggs and almonds. Fill the pastry case with the almond filling and arrange the pears on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C, 160C fan, 350F, gas 4, until the frangipane is golden brown and risen. Meanwhile, make a glaze. Melt the jam very gently in a saucepan, then sieve it.

When the tart is cooked, let it cool for 5 minutes, then glaze all over with the jam,

To serve Serve the tart warm, or allow it to cool to room temperature and serve with crème fraiche. It can be served the day after, when it will become chewier, but no less delicious. Keep it in an airtight container.

Per serving: 700-560 calories, 42-33.5g fat (14-11g saturated), 61-49g carbohydrate

Try this

If you only have a tart tin with a removable base, double line the outside with foil before placing in the roasting tin of water.

Chocolate, orange and hazelnut torte

Description: Chocolate, orange and hazelnut torte

This is seriously impressive, but incredibly simple to make – it’s worth using good-quality chocolate to achieve the best flavour.

Easy/ Prepare ahead – Preparation time: 20 minutes – Cooking time: 1 hours – Server 8 to 10

·         250g (9oz) very good-quality dark chocolate, around 85% cocoa solids (we used Lindt Excellence)

·         250g (9oz) caster sugar

·         250g (9oz) unsalted butter

·         Zest 3 oranges

·         2tbsp plain flour

·         4 large free-range eggs

·         Generous pinch sea salt

·         Icing sugar and 60g (2½oz) hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped, to serve.

You will need

·         25cm (10in) watertight tart tin, buttered and dusted with cocoa, and the bottom lined with baking parchment

Heat the oven to 150C, 130C fan, 300F, gas 2. Place the chocolate, sugar, butter and orange zest in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat very gently, stirring occasionally until melted. With a hand whisk, stir in the flour and then the eggs, one by one, until you have a smooth mix. Don’t worry if it curdles – keep stirring and adding the eggs, and it will come back together. Finally stir in the salt.

Spoon the mix into the tin, and place in a roasting tin of hot water, making sure the water level is at least 1cm (½in) below the top of the tart tin. Cook in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top of the tart is springy to the touch.

Remove from the oven and the roasting tin, allow to cool a little then invert on to a serving platter. You can eat this warm, or allow to cool to room temperature.

To serve Sift over a little icing sugar, and scatter with hazelnuts. This will keep overnight, but is best on the day it’s made.

Per serving: 627-500 calories, 43-34g fat (23-18g saturated), 52-42g carbohydrate

Chocolate fondants with salted caramel

Description: Chocolate fondants with salted caramel

Wickedly rich and decadent, you’ll have your guests sighing with delight.

Easy/ Prepare ahead – Preparation time: 20 minutes – Cooking time: 20 minutes – Server 8

·         275g (9½oz) dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids is best)

·         225g (8oz) butter

·         400g (14oz) caster sugar

·         5 large free-range eggs

·         200g (7oz) plain flour

·         8tbsp caramel sauce (we used Carnation Caramel), mixed with 1tbsp sea salt

You will need

·         8 x 200ml (7fl oz) metal pudding moulds, buttered and dusted with cocoa powder

Heal the oven to 200C, 180C fan, 400F, gas 6. Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until melted and smooth. Stir through the sugar, then hand-whisk in the eggs one by one – don’t worry if the mix splits, it will come back together. Fold in the flour with a generous pinch of salt – you should have a smooth, thick mixture.

Half-fill the moulds with the mix, then place 1tbsp of caramel in the centre of each, and divide the remaining fondant mix over the caramel – it should be completely encased in the centre of fondant. Cook on the middle shelf for 20 minutes exactly, then remove from the oven, let the moulds stand for 3 to 4 minutes then invert them on to plates and tip out the fondants.

To serve Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream. You can make these up to 3 days in advance and keep them in the fridge, but allow them to come back to room temperature before cooking or the cooking time will be affected.

Per serving: 794 calories, 41g fat (24g saturated), 87g carbohydrate

Lower-fat lemon posset

Description: Lower-fat lemon posset

We’ve taken this Elizabethan dessert and made it lighter by using half-fat crème fraiche. We don’t think anyone will notice!

Easy/ Prepare ahead – Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus 4 hours chilling – Cooking time: 10 minutes – Server 6

·         425ml (14½oz) half-fat crème fraiche

·         100g (4oz) caster sugar

·         2 lemons

·         Raspberries, to serve

You will need

·         6 ramekins or small glasses

Place the crème fraiche and sugar into a large saucepan – big enough to allow the mixture to boil vigorously. Strip the peel from the lemons with a potato peeler (it gives a more intense flavour) and add to the crème fraiche. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and allow it to boil vigorously for 5 minutes, stirring often so the bottom doesn’t burn. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and add to the crème fraiche. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve.

Pour the mixture into ramekins or glasses. If you’re using glasses, allow the mixture to cool slightly before pouring. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours. The set will be slightly softer than one traditionally made with cream, so don’t worry if it doesn’t firm up as much as you expected.

To serve Decorate with the raspberries. The possets will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

Per serving: 165 calories, 9g fat (6g saturated), 16g carbohydrate

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