Monday, March 7, 2011

Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake

I hope you all had a great weekend.  We had a nice relaxing one.  What's even better is I have today off of work for Pulaski Day.  I think it's only Illinois that celebrate's that day...either way, thanks Mr. Pulaski. After today there are NO days off for FIVE weeks!  Seems like forever.

Anyways over the weekend I made Torte di Pere for dessert at my parents house.  I never made and to be honest was a bit afraid of how it would turn out.  The directions are a bit complex and many of the comments on Smitten Kitchens blog said their torte sunk in the middle. 

I followed the directions exactly, and it came out great; it tasted even better.  This combines two perfect things...fruit and chocolate, and it is a great alternative to cake.  This is definately on my top 5 for desserts.

 Torta di Pere [Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake]Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

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 semi-ripe 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
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, 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, 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 [updated, thanks for your responses], or a tester comes out clean.

Serve with whip cream, ice cream or all by itself. 


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