Happy Valentine's Day!
I got this recipe from one of my absolute favorite bloggers. I bake something new from her recipe archives at least once a month. I had been wanting to try a pear and chocolate combination and this recipe looked simple at first glance. If you actually read the instructions though it is not that straightforward. The first step involves whisking the eggs until they are "pale and very thick" and Deb (of smitten kitchen) said it took five minutes on her professional grade kitchen aid to gain sufficient volume. I wish she had said by how much the egg volume should increase. I beat mine with regular beaters on a handheld machine for about five minutes and felt like the mixture was very pale and not getting any thicker. My cakes turned out great BUT the batter did not rise up to enfold the chocolate and pear pieces as Deb said it would- those beautiful chunks remained stubbornly afloat. Now I'm not sure if that happened because I didn't whisk the eggs enough or if it was because I made mini-cakes instead of a single large cake. I think it was the latter. This cake is delicious even with that one hitch. (which wasn't even that much of a hitch because it made the cake-lets even more beautiful.)
I highly recommend making this for your valentine tonight. And treat yourself to some cute silicone moulds too - its a great way to make your cakes more shareable, more pretty and easier to take out if the pan! (if that isn't a winning combination then I don't know what is.)
Brown Butter Chocolate Pear Cake
Adapted from Al Di La restaurant in Park Slope via Smitten Kitchen
I used Anjou pears and thought they worked great. This recipe did not take me nearly as long to make as I thought it would - don't let the butter browning or egg whipping intimidate you away from enjoying a subtle, delicate award-winning flavor combination!
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
3-4 pears, ripe but firm, 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 (or butter some silicone mini-cake moulds), set aside.
Whisk 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. (Takes at least five minutes.) 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 heat to allow it to cool slightly.
Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more. Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to loose volume, turn off the mixer. Fold in the flour mixture and the cooled browned butter in three parts, starting and ending with the flour. (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.) Do not over-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, or a tester comes out with moist crumbs.