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!”
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.
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 Chocolate Pear Cake
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
2 tbsp water
3 pears (Guyot or Conference)
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.
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.
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?
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.