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Darren Purchese

Amazing Pear Tart Tatin with Ginger Custard



Ask any MasterChef contestant what they’re most afraid of seeing walk through those iconic doors, and nine times out of ten, their response will be a dessert challenge. They scared the crapola out of us.

One of those dessert masters, responsible for setting some of the toughest challenges in the biz, is none other than Darren Purchese, pastry chef and owner of the eponymous Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio just down the road from our own market, at 647 Chapel Street.

So I’m sure you can imagine my glee at getting to set him a challenge of my own.

30 minutes to shop the market for readily available ingredients (no gels and potions, Daz) to cook a midweek dessert in just 45 minutes.

Darren chose to show us not one, but TWO absolute classics – tarte tatin and chocolate mousse – but added his own twists onto each – and our standing room only audience absolutely demolished both.

The key to Purchese’s success (both on stage, and in the Studio) is his ability to play with flavours and textures – whether it be adding a Market Lane long black to the mousse or topping said mousse with a “freestyle” coffee crumb (I may have hidden the kitchen scales to even things up a bit).

But my very favourite part of this demonstration was watching him do the iconic Tatin Turnout, where you flip the whole thing off the pan and onto a dish, revealing the luscious golden fruit within.

Even though the classic tatin calls for apples, Daz used new-season Josephine pears from Damian Pike’s, offering his advice to change it up – use whatever fruit is ripest, because it makes your job easier on the other side.

When you decide to make this recipe at home (notice I said “when”, not “if”?) just ask your favourite purveyor of fruit what they’d recommend. Firm, sweet fruit works best, such as plums, pineapples, or even something more unusual like feijoas… The tin is your oyster!*

*No oysters in the tarte tatin, s’il vous plait.


Pear Tart Tatin with Ginger Custard


Pear Tart Tatin Ingredients:

2 Firm Pears
90g Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
100g Caster Sugar
1 Vanilla Pod, Seeds Scraped
1 Puff Pastry (Darren used Careme) (disc 20cm diameter 0.5cm thick)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C; you will need an 18cm diameter ovenproof shallow pan or tatin tin.
  2. Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthways, use a corer to scoop out the core.
  3. Push the butter into the base of the tatin tin.
  4. Sprinkle the sugar to cover the butter and add the scraped vanilla seeds.
  5. Place the pears, point inwards, onto the sugar cut side down.
  6. Place the disc of pastry over the top of the pears and strect to cover the base of the tin. Tuck excess pastry under neat the round edges of the pear around the tin. We are looking for an unfussy and rustic style appearance to this dessert, so don’t be afraid to use your hands.
  7. Using a sharp knife cut a small slice in the centre of the puff pastry to allow steam to escape while cooking.
  8. Place the pan onto a stove, BBQ top or flame and heat over a medium to high heat.
  9. As the pan starts to heat shake the pan to avoid the contents from sticking and catching.
  10. Syrup will start to develop in the pan with the butter, sugar and spices mixing and melting together. Use a spoon to scoop some of this syrup onto the back of the exposed puff pastry.
  11. Get the spoon into the centre cavity and ensure a liberal soaking of the pastry with the syrup all over. Continue to shake the pan and keep the contents moving.
  12. Cook until the syrup starts to turn a golden brown colour and then remove from the heat.
  13. Place the entire tin into the oven and cook for around 25 minutes or until the tatin looks cooked and the pastry is crisp.
  14. Remove from the oven and allow the tatin to cool for 5 minutes before attempting the flip.
  15. Use a larger plate than the diameter of the tin lined with baking paper and place it over the top of the tatin presentation side down. Use oven gloves or tea towels to hold the plate and the tin and flip in one rapid motion until the plate is on the bottom and the tin is on the top.
  16. Remove the tin and allow the tatin to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  17. Transfer the tatin to a serving plate and cut into portions.
  18. Serve the tatin with some vanilla ice cream or cream.

Ginger Custard Ingredients:

Ginger, Fresh Peeled, Grated 50g
Whole Milk 3.5% 280g
Cream 35% Fat 280g
Caster Sugar 40g
Egg Yolks 100g (5)


  1. Place the milk and cream into a saucepan with the ginger.
  2. Mix the sugar and egg yolks together well with a small whisk.
  3. Heat the milk and cream to a boil and remove from the heat.
  4. Strain the liquid and discard the small ginger pieces.
  5. Pour one third of the liquid onto the yolks mixing constantly; pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk and cream.
  6. Place the pan back onto the stove and cook over a low heat stirring continuously with a rubber spatula.
  7. Cook the custard to 85ºC using a digital thermometer to accurately check the temperature.
  8. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl set over a bowl of ice and stir to cool down or server immediately.
  9. Store in a fridge until needed. This mix can double up as a delicious ginger ice cream base.


Chocolate Mousse with Coffee Crumb & Banana


Chocolate Mousse with Coffee Ingredients:

Long Black 120ml
Caster Sugar 15g
Gelatine Gold Leaf 1 leaf
Dark Chocolate 235g
Unsalted Butter, Softened 25g
Cream 35% Fat 430g


  1. Soak the gelatine leaf in cold water for a couple of minutes to soften before removing and discarding the water.
  2. Place the water and the sugar into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the reserved soaked gelatine and then whisk in the chocolate and butter until you have a smooth shiny emulsion.
  4. Strain this mix into a mixing bowl.
  5. Lightly whip the cream and fold into the cooled chocolate base.
  6. Pour evenly into the glasses and tap to level.
  7. Once set top with coffee crumb.


Salted Coffee Crumb Ingredients:

Caster Sugar 50g
Ground Almonds 50g
Plain Flour 30g
Cocoa Powder 15g
Ground Coffee 10g
Salt pinch
Unsalted Butter 40g


  1. Melt the butter cold. Mix all of the other ingredients together and mix in the cold melted butter.
  2. Bake at 180°C for 8 minutes and then cool.
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