Despite all of my best intentions, I’ve still had trouble getting to the keyboard to wave “hi” to the blogosphere. It’s been a crazy few weeks at work, and I’ve been doing some traveling, which is keeping me away from my computer on weekends. I haven’t even been doing all that much cooking – we’re living on cheese and pickles and bean dip these days, it seems. But I do want to share this wonderful cake with you… provided you still like me, even though I’m such a lousy blogger.
I’ve been wanting to make this cake for awhile. It’s from Rustic Fruit Desserts – a baking book that has become a standby for me even in the short time I’ve had it. But complications arose which prevented me from baking this. You see, hubby doesn’t like pears. Don’t ask me why. Don’t ask him why, either. He doesn’t know why, he just knows that he doesn’t like them. So with hubby not liking pears, and me not being the biggest chocolate afficianado, this cake seemed destined to end up in the pile of good-ideas-that-will-never-get-baked. But I kept it in the back of my head, because really it’s a lovely recipe and I wanted to give it the old college try. Then last weekend I finally got my chance – I was down in Miami visiting my college B-F-F, the adorable Rebecca, and it just happened to be her birthday. Clearly, Rebecca needed a birthday cake, and clearly, I was just the girl to bake it for her! We pulled out a bunch of cookbooks and this recipe from Rustic Fruit Desserts – which Rebecca had ordered after I raved about it – was the clear winner. After one bite, we both agreed that this is a cake to make again and again. The cake is moist, which you don’t always get in chocolate cakes, with a deep, dark, chocolatey flavor, and the pears and homemade caramel take it over the top.
I might even bake it for hubby. See if I can change his mind about pears.
Upside Down Pear and Chocolate Cake
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed (unsweetened) cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
- Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make caramel: Put 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water into a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and allow to cook for two minutes. Uncover and allow the sugar mixture to continue to boil, gently swirling occasionally, until the caramel takes on a dark amber color. Pour the caramel carefully – very carefully! – into the prepared baking pan and allow it to solidify. Arrange the pear slices over the caramel (either fan them out if you want them to look pretty, or strew them haphazardly for a more rustic look – I would have preferred the latter, but the birthday girl requested the former, so that’s what I did).
- To make the cake, melt the butter and chopped chocolate together over a double boiler. Meanwhile, sift tgether the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, whisk to combine if necessary, and set aside.
- Transfer the melted chocolate to the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar, and beat with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer with beaters) for 3 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate and scraping down the sides after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the chocolate, sugar and egg mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. Pour the batter over the pear slices in the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, until springy.
- Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate, leaving the pan on the cake for another 5 minutes before removing it. (Nota Baker: Don’t rush this! I’ve tried to unmold things before they were ready. Major disaster. As the Pioneer Woman would say, don’t be like me.) Serve cake warm, preferably with vanilla ice cream.
Source: Rustic Fruit Desserts, by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson