Upside-Down Dark Chocolate Pear Cake

That did it – it had to be a chocolate pear cake since the pears just sat there showing off their perfect hippy contours in the fruit bowl, pride of place on the breakfast table.

Really. No takers? It was the same for lunch, goûter, and dinner. Were they just too pretty to look at?  I decided it was “conference” time with the family last weekend; would they also like their pears hugged in chocolate, the unanimous response was

“Oh, we love pears!”

Upside down chocolate coffee pear cake recipe

Chocolate Pear Cake Inspiration

I hit on the idea of this chocolate pear cake while trying out a delicious recipe for a Drunken Damson Dessert by Angela Reid from Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipe Book. As I poured the chocolate mix on top of my damson-replaced nectarines soaked in the gin, I was thinking that next time I should try a non-alcoholic version and flip it upside-down so that the pears would be caramelised and glistening on top – rather like a Tarte Tatin style chocolate cake.

nectarine and chocolate pudding

This is nearly a flourless cake since I added just a couple of tablespoons, just to cake it up a bit but for gluten-free diets you can skip the flour.  I also love adding coffee to pear (see this coffee and poached pear recipe); the coffee also brings out the dark chocolate’s intensity.

The photos really don’t do this cake justice.  The family didn’t give me much time to photograph it and, as it was at the end of the day, the sun was playing up and I was juggling the rest of dinner.  There wasn’t even time to do a photo set-up. Plonk! Snap! But enough of my excuses. I suggest you make this and show me your better shots!  What counts is that it tastes fabulous and I’ll have to make it again soon.

upside down dark chocolate coffee pear cake recipe

Upside-Down Chocolate Pear Cake

Serves 6-8

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes

2 tbsp water

100g sugar
25g butter

3 pears (Guyot or Conference)

Chocolate Cake:
50g sugar

4 eggs
250g dark chocolate (at least 64% cocoa solids)
175g butter (unsalted)
1 tpsp coffee powder

2 tbsp plain flour (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (gas 6). Butter a 25cm cake pan (no need to if using a silicone round cake mould, or moule à manqué that’s non-stick).

2. Make a caramel by stirring the sugar into the water in a heavy-based saucepan.  Leave to simmer (don’t stir at this stage) until a golden caramel forms then stir in the butter.  Immediately pour the caramel into the cake pan.

pears in cake pan on top of caramel and before the chocolate mix is poured on top

3. Peel the pears and cut them in half.  Remove the cores with a sharp knife then cut each half into three slices. Arrange them as packed together as you can on top of the caramel (they’ll shrink as they cook) and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove to cool slightly.

4. Using a hand whisk, beat the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Break up the chocolate into pieces and melt it together with the butter and coffee powder in a heat-proof bowl on top of a pan of simmering water (bain-marie), ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the chocolate bowl. When smooth and melted, whisk together the chocolate into the egg, then add the flour (if using), mix then pour the chocolate batter on top of the pears.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

5. Leave to cool slightly for about 10 minutes. Using a sharp blade of a knife, go around the sides to ensure nothing is sticking.  Place a large serving plate over the pan and, holding on to both plate and pan, flip the plate upside down to demould the cake.

upside down dark chocolate coffee pear cake

Serve either cold or slightly warm with cream but it’s just as good entirely on its own.

Next time I’m adding some candied ginger and perhaps a teaspoon of ground ginger to replace the coffee. What do you think?  Are you more for classic plain or spicy with pear and chocolate?

upside down chocolate caramel pear coffee cake

Update: An intense caramel photo shot with the chocolate and pear cake. Ah, is that better? I made this again and have updated the recipe to suggest you caramelise the pears just a little longer in the oven and have adjusted step 3 accordingly. But if you prefer the previous more natural poached look, then leave in the oven for just 10 minutes in step 3.

12 replies
  1. Cheryl Turner
    Cheryl Turner says:

    Oh heavenly day! I just came over from eye prefer paris (Richard Nahem) and I’m so glad I found you. Can’t wait to share your recipes and blog posts with my chef. I also would love to carry both books in my gift shop.Hoping that’s a possibility. Thanks for making my mouth water.
    ~Cheryl – Paris In A Cup

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      How lovely we’ve connected! So happy if you’d like to share the recipes and of course it’s a possibility for the books. Now I have your contact mail via the system will be in touch. Thanks for your lovely comment!

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Thanks but I don’t think I can say I invented it. Who knows? It’s the kind of yumminess that I am sure has been done sometime, somewhere before by some grandmother in her kitchen, trying to please everyone at the table! But I’d like to think I’ve created something for my family, at least. Appreciate you popping by!

  2. Christina @ Christina's Cucina
    Christina @ Christina's Cucina says:

    This is genius, Jill! Love the flavors of pear and chocolate together, but in addition to that it’s absolutely stunning! I don’t know what you’re talking about, but there’s no need for better pictures at all. And I do spy a Wedgwood Cornucopia plate! Don’t tell me that’s the pattern of china that you have? That would be freaky! You’re making me wish I had a working oven!!!

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      OK, let’s be freaky Christina. We picked Cornucopia for our wedding china. And we’ve only broken one plate in 18 years. Why – do you have the same? That would be SO funny. Wishing you have a new oven soon but in the meantime there are lots of no-bake chocolate puddings here too. Wishing that an oven fairy comes to you soon, my friend x

      • Christina @ Christina's Cucina
        Christina @ Christina's Cucina says:

        Yes, we’re freaky twins! I didn’t want china for our wedding as we were married in Michigan and would have had to transport it to California. A year or two later I spied the Cornucopia design in a shop window in England and fell in love with it and that’s what we bought with our wedding $! 🙂 Can you believe it? I don’t want to say how many we’ve broken as I’ll jinx our good luck!



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