• This is a delicious winter dessert. The combination of ingredients is fantastic and pears are so good at this time of year.

    Recipe by Karen Short

    Styling by Helena Erasmus

    Photograph by Graeme Borchers

    Pear and cardamom tart with a vanilla-pod anglaise

    Serves: 8



    • 200g cake flour
    • 100g unsalted butter
    • 2 tbsp castor sugar
    • pinch of salt
    • 2 tbsp chilled water

    • 500ml (2 cups) water
    • 850g castor sugar
    • 10 cardamom pods, cracked open
    • 1 cinnamon quill
    • 1 star anise
    • 3 pears

    • 190g ground almonds
    • 110g unsalted butter
    • 130g castor sugar + extra, to sprinkle
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

    • 250ml (1 cup) full-cream milk
    • 3 vanilla pods, split lengthways
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 50g castor sugar



    Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and process for 1 minute. Add the chilled water and pulse until the mixture comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C.


    Roll the pastry out as thinly as possible and line a greased 25cm tart tin with the pastry. Chill for a further 30 minutes. Prick the base and bake blind until the pastry is dry and cooked, about 10 – 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.


    To poach the pears, combine the water, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon quill and star anise in a large pot, and stir over a low heat without boiling until the sugar is dissolved. Peel the pears, add them to the liquid, cover and simmer until they’re soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover the pot with grease-proof paper to keep the pears submerged, and leave to cool. Remove the pears from the liquid and strain.


    For the filling, place the ground almonds, butter, sugar, eggs and cocoa in a food processor and blend to form a thick paste. Carefully spoon and spread the mixture into the pastry case. Core and quarter the pears, slice them thickly and arrange them in a fan over the top of the almond mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.


    To make the vanilla pod anglaise, scald the milk with the vanilla pod by bringing it to just below boiling point. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together, pour the warm milk over and mix well. Return to the pan and stir over a low heat with a wooden spoon until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Do not allow to boil. Strain into a bowl and cover tightly with a sheet of grease-proof paper to prevent a skin from forming.


    Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle the top with the extra castor sugar. Return it to the oven for a further 10 minutes and test that the tart is cooked. Allow it to cool slightly.


    Serve sliced and drizzled with the anglaise sauce.


    The tart freezes beautifully for up to one month. The pears can be substituted for apples.