Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pear and Chocolate Cake

I had bought a bunch of d'anjou pears that all ripened at the same time, and weren't incredibly delicious to eat, so I wanted to find a good recipe to bake them into both to use them up and to enhance them.

This recipe from Al di La via Sitten Kitchen fit the bill.  This was an easy cake, not too fussy cake that tasted quite glamourous even though it has more of a country look. Pears and good chocolate give it an unexpected, distinguished flair. What is really neat about it is that it turns out almost looking like a cinnamon swirl, even though the pear and chocolate are simply scattered across the top as the last step before baking. 

Pear and Chocolate Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 pears, peeled, in a small dice - I used d'anjou

3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks - I used 1 3.5 ounce bar of Lindt 60% broken into pieces.
*1 teaspoon vanilla or brandy

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9- or 10-inch springform pan and dust with just enough flour to coat, tapping out extra.

Sift 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick, about 5 minutes with a stand mixer.

While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter, by melting it in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Cook it until the solids separate out and sink to the bottom and brown. It will start to smell nutty, but be careful to watch it because it can burn. (I like to strain it through a very fine sieve which will get most of any burnt pieces but the flavor will still be toasty.)

Add sugar to eggs and whip to combine. Then alternately add flour mixture and butter in 3 and two additions, whisking just until combined. Fold with a spatula to incorporate if needed, careful not to overmix. Pour into prepared pan.

Sprinkle with diced pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes until tester comes out clean.

*This cake was very good, and we ate it plain though whipped cream would be an excellent accompaniment. Though as yet untested, next time I make it, I think I will add a bit of brandy or vanilla to the egg mixture. It could just be that my pears weren't incredibly flavorful, but even still I think just a small bit of flavoring would really add some enjoyable layers of complexity.

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