Chocolate and pears – what a great combination! That, and a dash of brandy, and you’re onto a winner!
This cake – a dark flourless chocolate cake, studded with juicy pears and topped with an apricot and brandy glaze – is as much a dessert as something you’d have for afternoon tea. That’s actually how I served it – as a dessert, with a generous dollop of Chantilly cream and some drizzled dark raw chocolate sauce. Divine!
I used this recipe from Good to Know, and added some brandy into both the cake and the apricot glaze. I also added the Chantilly cream as I always think it’s the perfect partner to chocolate cake – just adding that extra moisture. Not that the cake wasn’t moist – it was beautifully moist and tender – a bit like a light brownie in texture.
I definitely recommend serving this cake warm. So, either serve it not long after you’ve baked it, or heat each slice up in the microwave (as I did) for about 20 seconds at serving time.
Whether you serve this for afternoon tea, or as a delightful way to finish a main meal, I can unreservedly recommend it. Enjoy!
- A little caster sugar (superfine) to line the sides of the tin
- 100g (3.5 oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
- 100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 100g (3.5 oz) caster sugar, plus extra for tin
- 4 ripe, but firm, pears*
- 100g (3.5 oz) packet ground almonds (almond meal)
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 teaspoon brandy (optional)
- 300ml (10.1 fl oz) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), to serve
- Optional: Raw chocolate sauce
- Set the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter a 23-25cm (9-10 inch) cake or flan tin** and put a disc of baking parchment in the base. Spoon in a little caster sugar to coat the inside of the tin, then tip out the excess.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together, in a bowl over a pan of hot water or in a microwave oven. Add the brandy, and let the mixture sit to cool a little.
- Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy and a trail can be seen in the mixture when the whisk is lifted up.
- To prepare the pears, peel them with a vegetable peeler and then halve them. Use a melon baller, or a teaspoon, to scoop out the pips in the centre.
- Fold the melted chocolate mixture along with the ground almonds into the whisked egg-yolk mixture - the mixture will come together in a fairly stiff ball.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they’re stiff. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of the egg whites fairly vigorously into the chocolate mixture, to loosen it up.
- Add the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture and carefully fold in using a large metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to overwork it or the air will be lost and the sponge won’t rise as much.
- Pour the mixture gently into the tin, and arrange the pear halves on top, with the cut-side down (these will sink as the cake bakes).
- Bake cake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until it’s set in the centre (use a skewer to test). Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring it to a wire rack.
- Press the apricot jam through a sieve, add the brandy (if using) and warm in the microwave to make it easy to brush over the cake. Brush it over the cake while it's still hot. Let the cake cool (it can be served warm or at room temperature).
- Add cream, sieved icing sugar and vanilla extract into a mixer bowl and beat until it has soft peaks.
- Serve with a dollop of Chantilly cream and dust the cake with icing sugar, if you like. I also drizzled over some Raw Chocolate Sauce.
** A spring-form tin is easiest for this recipe, however you can use a standard ceramic flan tin (as I did). To get the cake out, I laid a wide folded piece of parchment across the bottom of the tin and out over the sides so that I could lift the cake safely out after it had baked.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting