My rapport with Chocolate Ganache started with an Arabica Chocolate Tart laced with gold leaf. The smooth intensity melting in my palette stopped my urge to chew, letting the tart cover my mouth with tingles and pulls of flavour.
But that was not where I learnt of it, the taste of chocolate.
The first time I put a chocolate bean in my mouth my brain gasped. I was on my way through a coastal jungle to a river after a good day’s swim in the sea when a friend, Mercedes Castillo, said, look chocolate! I thought, what is she talking about, we are in the jungle? She stepped away from the path and snapped off a multicoloured pod that popped out of the trunk of a leggy, big leafed, branchy tall bush. The bush stood sort of sad and lonely looking, disguised under a sky that could only peek through the massive jungle tree crown. Mercedes cracked the pod open on a stone and separated the crisp hard shell in two, pulling out a bunch of nuts that looked like a sardine-packed bunch of slimy grapes of the same but very subtle hues as the outside of the pod. She handed one of the slimy nuts over and I am so glad I didn’t flinch. She was right, it was chocolate. I could taste it, there was no doubt. Suddenly I realized where I was. Tasting the chocolate and liking it let me notice that I was surrounded by hundreds of wiry chocolate ‘lonely’ bushes, with, even better, funny colourful chocolate pods popping out of their trunks. A full on plantation of chocolate dispersed under the mantel of a coastal Venezuelan jungle. Pretty much I thought, -well now I know what life is about-. I was wrong. It was even better to sit in a natural pool in the river with a full pod of chocolate nuts and eat them all by myself without having to worry about where to put the wrapper, as I threw it to where it came from.
Now thinking back, that was a crime. I had stolen a couple of fruits from someone’s plantation. To be honest I don’t regret it. It was a good, sunny, warm and happy moment and did it only once, promise 😉
Anyway, I live very, very, very far away from multi-coloured magic coloured pods of chocolate in biodegradable packaging. But eating pear and Chocolate Ganache tart fills in quite well. Especially because those warm and fluffy memories are the ones that are most welcome.
Pear and Chocolate Ganache Tart
2-3 Bosc pears
1 cinnamon stick
250 g 70% dark chocolate
180 ml whipping cream
Follow the instructions for the Fresh, pre-baked or fully baked dough
Bring water in a pot large enough to hold the three pears to a boil and then lower the heat to a constant simmer. Add the cinnamon stick to the simmering water. In the meantime peel the pears and leave them whole. Pop the pears into the simmering water, cover with a lid and simmer for 10 -12 minutes. The pears will be ready when the outer part of the flesh starts looking a bit transparent. The core should remain firm so to keep the pear slices maneuverable when placing them on the cooked shell. Take the pears out of the simmering water when they are ready and set aside to cool before slicing.
Break the chocolate into even pieces, about 3 cm long and wide, a melt it slowly in a warm double boiler/bain marie. Stir regularly with a whisk, smoothly, to make sure that there are no lumps. Gradually add the whipping cream by a trickle and mix smoothly and constantly with the whisk until both the chocolate and the cream are incorporated. Turn the heat off the bain marie and leave aside.
Prepping the pears
Slice the cooled off pears in half, then in quarters and carefully slice off the cores from each quarter. Slice each quarter into thin slices straight onto the fully baked dough in a concentric pattern. Once the shell is fully covered, pour the Chocolate Ganache over the tart slowly, in again, a concentric motion. This will allow for covering all the pears evenly with the Ganache and, even better, it will smooth out on its own as it settles. Let cool in a cool dark place. The Chocolate Ganache will not take very long to have a solid-creamy consistency, enough to cut a clean slice before serving.