The Vintage Tea Party Year is the most beautiful cookbook that I own!The recipes are framed by delicious illustrations of partying animals going about their classy soirees. All of the food looks amazing, but it also often looks rather pricey and difficult to make; the first pie requires pigeon breast, and there are instructions on how to make swans out of choux pastry! Definitely above my skill level! But when there are fox ladies drinking champagne who needs to make the actual food!
However I decided that I should give at least one recipe a go, so I leafed through and picked out the ‘Pear and Mint Chocolate Tartlets’, mainly because the instructions seemed pretty straight forward and I recognised all of the ingredients and could pick them up from Morrisons!
So the first step was to poach four peeled pears in a red wine mixture flavoured with mint, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar.
Poaching only took 20 minutes, but they then had to marinate for at least 3 hours. By the end the pears had taken on a lovely red colour in the pot and the whole house had a captivating mulled wine scent going on, which was very nice and a bit Christmassy!
Then it was time to make the chocolate ganache, which did not take very long at all. It involved warming double cream in a saucepan for a couple of minutes, then pouring it over chocolate until melting goodness occurred.
Once the chocolate was melted, I added some butter until there was a lovely shiny chocolate mixture. Then it was time for more waiting as the ganache needed to cool in the fridge for up to an hour.
During which time I was supposed to be making the pastry cases but I cheated and used ready made ones instead! I also cheated in buying mint flavoured chocolate instead of mixing in fresh mint with plain chocolate. I’m all for shortcuts!
Finally everything was ready to put together. I spooned the very solid chocolate mixture into the cases and evened them out with a tea spoon. By the way, if you do choose to buy ready made cases, make sure you check that they are all whole before you buy them. I dismissed four sets at the supermarket until I found a box where all eight cases were intact.
Then came the challenge of slicing the pears into thin strips and arranging them into a rose pattern on the tarts. I was not confident that I would be able to match the picture in the book at all. But it was not as difficult at it looked and I ended up with something that was not as perfect as the book but was still very pretty to look at! In fact I think this might be the fanciest looking thing I have ever made!
Although when my brother saw the tarts he did say that he thought the pears looked a lot like beetroot, which wasn’t the look I was going for, but I can see his point!
And as for taste, well it is a more sophisticated dessert than I have made before; with the sweet wine drenched pears and rich chocolate ganache. The flavours work really well together but I don’t imagine young children would enjoy them. Then again, you probably shouldn’t give children alcohol infused sweets anyway!
The funny thing with this recipe is that although I started prep at 9am and didn’t have finished tarts until 4pm, there actually wasn’t a lot of cooking involved. I poached the pears for about 20 minutes and warmed the cream for 5 minutes, and that was it. The rest was stirring, mixing and waiting, a lot of waiting.
The ganache in particular was really easy to make and could be adapted to make other flavoured tartlets. You could just fill ready made pastry cases with the ganache and top with your fruit of choice. I think strawberries or raspberries would look and taste amazing. Or if you wanted something more fancy, how about using orange flavoured chocolate and then top it with slices of kiwi! The possibilities are endless!