Pear season is in full swing in California. Chocolate season is always in full swing in the family. I combined the two and received this very chocolate-ful pear-ful cake that I wished could stay in season for the longest time. If you love moist cakes, then you will love this cake. Treat pears as your bonus, and a scrumptious one.
To Poach the Pears: 4 Bosc pears or Bartlett pears, or any hard-flesh pear (I used Bartlett pears, Elra used Bosc)
2 cups water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the Cake Batter:
4 oz (113 g) bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup almond meal (finely ground almond), or hazelnut meal, or a combination of both
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder or Dutch process cocoa powder
1¼ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 oz (113 g) unsalted butter (leave at room temperature until soft)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (use 3/4 cup if you prefer a sweeter cake)
4 eggs, at room temperature
First, poach the pears. Peal them, cut them in half, and core. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Arrange the pear halves in the pan (you can toss in the clove or lemon rind if you want to flavor the pears). Add more water if needed, to just cover the pears. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and, maintaining a gentle boil, simmer, until the pears are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure the pears are not overcooked or they will be mushy in the cake. Remove the pear halves from the pan using a slotted spoon. Set aside to cool, while you prepare the cake batter.
Now, prepare the cake batter. First, melt the chocolate: Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often. Or, you can melt it in the microwave oven. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Butter the bottom of a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan, line with parchment paper. Butter the paper as well. Coat the cake pan lightly with flour. Tap off the excess flour. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar on a medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the melted chocolate, beat on a low speed until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and beat for another minute (do not overbeat).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the slices of pear in a circle, hollowed sides down (see the picture below). Bake the cake for 30 to 40 minutes. I baked mine for 35 and it was medium moist. 30 minutes should give you a super moist cake, if that’s what you want (my next goal). 40 minutes is good if you want your cake on a dry side. To check the cake for doneness, insert a skewer in the center of the cake and remove—it should come out with moist crumbs attached to it instead of being dry and clean. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Serve the cake warm or cooled. A dollop of ice cream on top of the still warm slice of cake should be delicious.