Do I really need to say anything more about this cake?
Okay...I guess I should say at least a few more words. Because I'm truly glad you've stopped in.
This, my friends, is a moist, spicy-sweet cake with chunks of chocolate complimented by a heavy dollop of a slightly tangy buttermilk pasty cream.
In its condensed description: delicious.
This pear and chocolate cake is one of those desserts you should bake for company. Complex flavors and textures along with a beautiful presentation makes this recipe one of my go-to favorites when entertaining guests.
You might even bring out your fancy plates to serve it.
Abby and Tom have two beautiful kitties, Lunchbox and Suvie, and I felt it fitting we celebrate the New Year in the presence of felines.
In our minds, 2011 will forever be remembered as the year of the cat.
Although we went through an immense tragedy this Spring, we found (and still find) comfort in the small gifts of life.
One week before my sister and nephew's funerals, a small gray cat curled around my legs at a park and purred her way into our lives.
Maybe it was just a coincidence that she looked so similar to the cat Pam received for her 16th birthday...but on the nights I couldn't sleep and Cricket rested patiently on my lap, I knew otherwise.
*Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen Recipe
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
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Buttermilk Pastry Cream:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
MAKE AHEAD: The buttermilk pastry cream needs to chill for at least one hour. This can be made up to one day ahead.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter 2 nine or eight-inch cake pans, line with a parchment round. Butter and flour top of parchment paper and sides. Set aside.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside.
3. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. This takes about 9 minutes.
4. 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). Frequently stir the bottom with a wooden spoon to remove browned spots. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.
3. Add the sugar to the egg mixture and whip a few minutes more.
4. Just as the egg-sugar mixture begins to loose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and 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.
5. Pour into prepared pans. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 minutes, or a tester comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool in pan for at least 15 minutes. WARNING: this cake is very delicate...remove directly to the plate you plan on serving it.
To make the buttermilk pastry cream:
1. Combine sugar, flour, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Whisk gently to break up any lumps, and set aside. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside.
2. Combine buttermilk and egg yolks in a small saucepan and whisk until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients and place the pan over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla extract. Immediately cover cream with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool for 1 hour in refrigerator before spreading between and on top of cooled pear chocolate layers.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores