Monday, April 25, 2011

Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake

Seasonal, quick, and easy. This cake is a great addition to any dinner party or potluck. Or, make it to enjoy at home. Rich chocolate, sweet pears, and nutty brown butter may seem like a flavor combination stretch, but it works in a marvelous way. And, if you add whipped cream to the picture, you're in for a good time my friends. A cake that defies several laws of physics, the batter starts underneath the chocolate and pears but gracefully rises through and engulfs the fruit and chocolate so that it becomes a cake filling rather than a topping. I think the baking time greatly depends on the pears you use which is why I gave such a large range in the instructions. Just keep checking the cake and it will set up eventually, it's definitely worth the wait.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear 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
3 soft pears, peeled and diced (I used bosc)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks/chips

- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Butter a 9 inch springform pan and dust with flour. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside. Peel and dice the pears.

- Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick (8-10 minutes) (yes, it does take this long... especially if you use a hand mixer... hang in there).

- While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter (or, if you are using a hand mixer, do this first). 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 loose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, half of the butter, a third of the flour, the rest of the butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined. Then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. Do not over-whisk or mix the batter.

- Pour the batter into the prepared springform 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 40 to 70 minutes, or a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack before releasing it from the springform pan.

- Serve plain or with whipped cream.

Adapted from Courtesy of Al Di La Restaurant in Brooklyn via Smitten Kitchen

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