Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Pear & White Chocolate Cake

I am not a huge fan of white chocolate as it can be cloyingly sweet, but there is something about its inclusion in this cake which really brings out the flavour of the pears. I love pears and believe that quite often they are a fruit that really come into their own when cooked or baked. This is certainly the case where this cake is concerned.

Yes… this is an undeniably sweet cake, but it really does taste fabulous and is perfect served as a dessert, though I wouldn’t say no to a slice if offered it as a treat to eat with a cup of tea. The pears cut through some of the sweetness of the white chocolate and add a welcome juicy fruitiness. All too often fresh fruit added to a cake seems to almost lose some of its characteristic taste, but this is definitely not the case here; this is most definitely packed full of pear flavour.

The cake has a dense crumb, but is not heavy; in fact it has an almost chocolate truffle like texture and is very moreish. I was extremely pleased with how it turned out. The white chocolate in the cake perfumed my kitchen with a gentle caramel smell which was incredibly tempting; it took every ounce of self-restraint I had to stop myself from cutting a slice and devouring it as soon as it emerged from the oven. Actually, this cake is lovely if served slightly warm or allowed to cool to room temperature, with a generous dollop of lightly whipped fresh cream on the side. Happy days!

Ingredients:

2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced into 1cm chunks
1tblsp of pear liqueur
180g white chocolate, chopped
350g butter
575g caster sugar
375ml milk
300g plain flour
100g self-raising flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
To finish:
1 pear sliced very thinly from top to bottom, with a sharp knife
Juice of half a lemon
A little icing sugar for dusting
 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160C/Fan Oven 140C/Gas Mark 3. Line a 22/23cm round cake tin with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
2. Place the reap chunks in a small bowl and pour over the pear liqueur. Set aside.
3. Place the chocolate, butter, caster sugar and milk in a large saucepan over a low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 20 minutes.
4. Sift the self-raising flour and flour together and gradually add to the chocolate mixture so that it is fully incorporated and there are no lumps. Add the eggs, mixing well so that they too, are fully incorporated. Finally, fold in the liqueur soaked pears. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 1½ - 1¾ hours until risen and a thin skewer inserted, comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.
Pear crisps:
5. Dip the pear slices in a little lemon juice and place on a baking tray covered with non-stick baking parchment. Place into an oven at its lowest setting for approximately 2 hours until dried out and crisp.
To finish:
6. Dust the cooled cake with some icing sugar and arrange the pear crisps on top. Serve.

Serves 10-12.