Growing food trees in the backyard is a glorious lesson in patience. While some trees will bear fruits within a year of planting – like our omega plum that produced 20 kilograms in its first season – others are slow burners. Although the trees do grow taller, the fruits are slower to arrive, leaving one eyeing up space for another more fruitful tree.
Five years ago, we planted a western border of nut trees, knowing full well at the time they will take some years to produce. The almond produced within several years but the hazelnut from all appearances seemed to be sitting dormant. That is, until this spring when the emerald-green buds set and come February we had a (small) carpet of fruit to collect. Barely enough for cooking but just enough to make a cake. Now to wait for the avocados to fruit (I mean ripen!).
P.S. This tart and caramel sauce (!) would make a lovely Mother’s Day treat and perfect timing with all the pears at the markets and shops. If you are a Mum (like me) you could share this recipe with your loved ones for a subtle hint 😉 And if you are looking for a present for a food lover I have copies of my Homegrown Kitchen cookbook available with free (standard) postage around NZ or upgrade to courier for overnight delivery HERE.
PEAR AND HAZELNUT FRANGIPANE TART
This simple crust-less tart is a lovely recipe to have up your sleeve to pull out any time of the year using any selection of seasonal fruit. It can be whipped up in less than an hour if you have last-minute visitors calling and the not-so-naughty salted caramel pear sauce will have them guessing.
- 1 cup hazelnuts or almonds, or 1 1/4 cups pre-ground nuts*
- 1/3 cup white flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 80 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 pears, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
*ground hazelnuts, almond meal or almond flour
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Generously grease a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin (or cake tin) or 4 x 10cm tart tins for smaller servings.
If using whole nuts, use a food processor to finely grind then tip into a bowl. Tip: adding 2 tablespoons of the flour quantity to the processor while blending will absorb the oil released by the nuts preventing them from turning to nut butter before they grind into a fine meal.
Wipe out the processor bowl and return to the machine. Add the butter, sugar and honey and blend until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla then eggs one at a time blending until thick. Add the ground nuts, remaining flour and baking powder to the processor and pulse 6 times. Scrape down the sides and pulse several more times until just combined. Scoop the batter into the prepared tin and snugly arrange the pear wedges or chosen seasonal fruit on the surface. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tart resists when lightly pressed. Cool in the tin. Serve warm or cold dolloped with salted caramel pear sauce and/or lightly whipped cream.
SALTED CARAMEL PEAR SAUCE
If you make one thing let it be this salted caramel sauce sweetened with pear and a little sugar, it is quite irresistible.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes: about 1½ cups
2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
Generous pinch of salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Place the pear pieces into a small saucepan and add the merest splash of water. Cover, and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes for the pear to steam until tender.
Remove from the heat and use a stick blender to puree into a smooth sauce. Add the butter, honey or maple syrup and salt and reheat. Stirring to combine until the sauce has a lovely shine. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. If it is too thick add a splash of milk or cream. The sauce should slowly pour off a spoon. Pour into a jug and serve warm alongside the pear and frangipane tart.
Any extra sauce can be stored in the fridge and used within 5 days. Warm to loosen and drizzle over pancakes or waffles, ice cream or stir through yoghurt for a simple dessert.
*Recipe first published 24th April on www.stuff.co.nz.