Tarts equal stress-free entertaining, especially if you have a crowd; they can be made well in advance and are easy to serve. If berries are in season, you can use them as an alternative to the pears: simply toss them in a little lemon juice and icing sugar.
- 1.5 kg firm ricotta
- 300 gm raw caster sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 200 gm almond meal
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- For dusting: pure icing sugar
- 555 gm plain flour
- 170 gm caster sugar
- 380 gm cold butter, diced
- 3 egg yolks
White wine-poached pears
- 8 honey or corella pears, peeled, halved
- 750 ml pinot grigio, or other Italian white wine
- 500 gm caster sugar
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 4 thyme sprigs
- Juice and thinly peeled rind of 1 lemon
Bitter chocolate sauce
- 200 gm bitter chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
- 200 ml pouring cream
- 200 gm softened butter
- 1For pastry, pulse flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until fine crumbs form, then add yolks, 1 tbsp chilled water and a pinch of salt and process until mixture just comes together. Turn onto a work surface and knead until smooth, then roll three-quarters of pastry between two sheets of baking paper into a 28cm x 30cm rectangle. Transfer to a 30cm x 32cm x 1cm baking tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate to rest for 1 hour. Meanwhile, roll remaining pastry between two sheets of baking paper into a 3mm-thick rectangle. Remove top layer of paper and refrigerate until pastry is firm (10-15 minutes).
- 2Preheat oven to 190C. Whisk ricotta, sugar and eggs in a large bowl until smooth, then fold in almond meal and lemon rind. Spoon ricotta mixture into pastry base and smooth top. Cut chilled pastry into long 5mm-wide strips and arrange in a lattice pattern on top of ricotta mixture. Bake until base is cooked, tart is golden and filling is set (40-50 minutes). Cool to room temperature.
- 3Meanwhile, for white wine-poached pears, combine ingredients in a wide shallow saucepan, bring to the simmer over medium heat, cover closely with a piece of baking paper and a lid, reduce heat to low and cook until pears are tender (10-20 minutes). Set aside to cool in poaching liquid.
- 4For bitter chocolate sauce, combine chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl placed over simmering water and stir occasionally until melted and glossy (3-5 minutes), then gradually add 150ml boiling water, stirring until smooth and glossy.
- 5Dust tart with icing sugar, cut into squares, drizzle with warm bitter chocolate sauce and serve with white wine-poached pears.
Drink Suggestion: Italian-style passito (dried grape) sweetie. Drink suggestion by Max Allen