Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake

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 pears, peeled, in a small dice (Lena: I used Bartlett)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks (Lena: I used 4 oz Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate bar, chopped roughly into chunks)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with breadcrumbs (Lena: I used 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. Lena: I used a 1 quart saucier pan.) 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. (Lena: I strained the butter through a fine sieve to catch the burnt bits.)

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, 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 40 to 50 minutes, or a tester comes out clean. (Lena: I baked it about an hour.) Don’t take the cake out before it is done. Doneness is much more important than baking times.

We served it with barely whipped whipped cream with a drop of almond extract in it, but I believe Anna serves it with buttermilk ice cream at the restaurant.

Serves: 8

Source: Smittenkitchen.com (blog). Courtesy of Al Di La Restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Prepared by: Lena for the July 2009 meeting, December 2013 meeting, October 2014 meeting, December 2015 meeting.