This March, the first Foodie Challenge of the Food Blogs Schweiz took place. As you can see from the photo, the items that Food Bloggers had to choose from were delicious seasonal fruits, nuts, and vegetables. I am on a sweet theme, so I chose Pears and Hazelnuts. After putting a vote on my Instagram Stories, whether people wanted to see something HEALTHY or DECADENT, the most votes were cast for Decadent. I believe this rich chocolatey torte fits the bill. I knew I wanted the crust to have hazelnuts, and the interior the be pillowy soft like my favourite flourless chocolate cake, and the pears should be soft and juicy like those in an autumnal pear cake I made recently. Best of all worlds! This cake is definitely company-worthy, and can be made (and should be made) hours ahead. It does need to cool before you can cut into it. So it’s perfect for a dinner party! Serve with vanilla-flecked creme fraiche or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to cut the richness. Bon appetit!
Place flour, cocoa powder and ground hazelnuts in a large bowl. Rub in butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs. Stir in the sugar, then add egg and bring together to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Flatten into a disc and enclose in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Roll out the pastry until 3mm thick, then use to line a 26cm fluted round tart pan. Line with baking paper and fill with baking weights, then place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Remove baking weights and paper, then bake for a further 5-10 minutes until completely dried. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven to 160°C.
For pears, place the juice, sugar, zests, vanilla, and 2 cups (500ml) water in a large pan over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add pears, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Strain, discarding poaching liquid. Set aside.
Meanwhile, for chocolate filling, place 1/3 cup (70g) sugar in a pan with 2 tbs water, then place over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat. (Or Microwave in 30 second increments) Place the chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl, pour over the butter mixture and whisk until smooth and melted. Cool to room temperature. Whisk eggs and remaining 35g sugar with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gently fold through the chocolate mixture. Pour the filling into the tart case. Cut each pear half into three and arrange on top, leaving the stems attached. Bake for 40 minutes or until set. Scatter with toasted hazelnuts and serve at room temperature.