Good morrow dear readers! Does good morrow mean good morning? Last Sunday, at the very end of my very extended but felt way too short vacation, the lovely Meredith made her way down from Salem for brunch. It was first time we spent any quality time together pretty much since she moved, and it was way overdue. I’ve missed her terribly. The bellinis were flowing like wine, we ate two different tart/pizza/flatbread things and we chattered away about wedding photographers and the like. And then we had dessert. Because I don’t like ending meals without sweets, especially when I have company. It’s uncivilized.
I had pears, and wanted to incorporate them into a cake. I was originally thinking about an upside down cake or the like, perhaps with ginger. When I went looking for recipes online, I came across two on my old standby favorite Smitten Kitchen. The pear and bittersweet chocolate cake was just what I was looking for. Easy to put together, and I had all the ingredients.
The fat in the batter is brown butter, which gives the finished cake a delicious flavor. The crumb is a bit like a coffee cake, definitely dessert but not overly sweet. The fruit gets really soft and the chocolate sinks down into the cake.
The chocolate was an added bonus, but I actually found myself picking it out and eating it separately. I really preferred just the fruit with the cake. and so next time, I think I am going to increase the fruit and leave out the chocolate, or perhaps change the fruit up and make it cherries and chocolate, or perhaps use a semi sweet chocolate instead of a bittersweet. It may have been the intensity of the cocoa that I didn’t like. I will have to ponder that. But it would also be awesome without the chocolate, and with apples instead of pears or maybe I could somehow work some banana in there, because I think that would be awesome with the brown butter batter (heh) too.
Well friends. This post has taken me DAYS to write, so I have to get it done. I have more posts to write. I have to tell you some more about my free week adventures (I cheated just a little, don’t be mad) and about my favorite free week discovery (I have eaten it FOUR times in the last six days.) Plus I have to tell you about a little experiment I am working on that goes a little something like this:
and like this:
But before I wrap up with the recipe, between starting this post and now, I have tried the cake again. This time with apples and a caramel sauce.
I was more excited about this than I should have been. It was good, but not right. I don’t think I like the type of apples (macs) and I cooked it for five minutes too long. But I like this cake. A lot. I will be experimenting again.
Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake
from Al Di La by way of Smitten Kitchen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbl baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour, set aside.
Sift the 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. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)
While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) and cook it until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.
Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.
Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.
Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 45 minutes or a tester comes out clean.