When choosing pears for poaching, those in between hard and ripe are best. Ripe fruit will become soft and squishy when poached, whereas unripe fruit will stay hard and discolour. I always buy slightly underripe green pears and let them ripen for several days before poaching. Frangipane is a pastry chef's staple. Versatile and simple, traditional frangipane owes its distinct flavour to almonds ground with sugar. If you want to flavour up your frangipane, you can easily replace some of the almond with other types of nuts such as pistachios and hazelnuts. I use it as a filling in my fruit tartlets and it can also be baked as a shallow cake.