This squidgy cake is perhaps closer to a tort. It also reminds me of the various “fallen chocolate cakes” I’ve seen where, due to the absence of flour, the cake collapses slightly as it cools creating a dense, rich chocolate delight. I was a little sad that my pears were completely smothered by the chocolate batter but it’s hard to complain about a cake rising more than anticipated!
Perfect as a tea time treat or a dessert, the recipe suggested serving with crème fraiche. I have to confess that I view crème fraiche as a tool of the devil so went with thick Channel Islands spooning cream instead. The contrast between the colours and textures of the pear and chocolate is very striking:
The only tweak I made to the recipe was using half dark, half milk chocolate instead of the recommended dark. This is purely down to personal taste; I sometimes find that dark chocolate can be too harsh by itself and some milk chocolate calms it down.
One thing I would say – and I sincerely hope it won’t put you off making this cake – is that while the recipe is very easy, you do need several bowls to hold ingredients in. I needed three: one to melt the chocolate and butter, one to hold the egg yolk and sugar, and the third to whip the egg whites in. Nothing complex, it just requires a bit of prep and organisation.
The cake is so moist:
While this may not sound the healthiest of cakes, it’s got a lot of things going for it. Firstly it contains pears which are fruit and we all know we need to eat lots of fruit. Secondly it includes dark chocolate which contains anti-oxidants (I have no idea what these do but it sounds vital to wellbeing). Thirdly I served it with cream which contains calcium ensuring healthy teeth and bones. Fourthly, it tastes delicious so will make you happy. Ok, I admit I’m running out of ideas....
85g unsalted butter
85g dark chocolate (I used half dark chocolate, half milk chocolate)
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
3 eggs, separated
85g golden caster sugar
85g ground hazelnuts
4 ripe small pears, peeled, halved and cored (you will probably only be able to fit 7 halves on the cake)
How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Line a 25cm springform tin with baking paper.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Put to one side.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale, thick and fluffy.
- Fold the egg yolk and sugar mix into the chocolate and then also fold in the ground hazelnuts.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they are at the soft peak stage.
- Fold one spoonful of the egg white into the chocolate mix to slacken the mixture.
- Fold the remaining whites into the chocolate being careful not to overwork the mixture.
- Spoon or pour the batter into the prepared cake tin then lightly place the pear halves on top, cut side down.
- Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack before carefully removing from the tin. The cake will sink a little on cooling.
- Dust with icing sugar and serve with thick cream or, if you really must, crème fraiche.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.