It's almost May...but it feels like it's late November. Wind blowing and rain falling down hard. Then softly with the sun poking its little nose in once in a while. We had a short preview of summer in March that I almost wish never happened (almost), just so I wouldn't be longing for it so badly. What a tease this weather has been. sigh
I never understood why but summer brings about this carefree and relaxed attitude that seems to transcend to everyone. Warm weather and sunshine equals instant happiness.
But Lisa, I thought your favorite season was autumn? Why yes, yes it is. But the very beginning of summer makes me so giddy. I'm sure you know that feeling. Just like that first kiss.
Ice cream everyday and walks around the city without ever feeling cold. It feels so liberating. For some reason I also feel more inclined to have friends over for dinner and drinks.
I recently hosted a little get-together with some great friends for do-it-yourself paninis, extra delicious sangria and chocolate cake. Gluten-free chocolate cake to be more precise. Sure, it isn't exactly summer yet but it's getting there. And the sangria, which was made by a friend using home-made wine and lots of rum, definitely helped.
Summer to me also means quick and simple desserts. Although this cake may have a few steps, it is actually very quick and easy to make. Each step takes a few minutes and it is really easy to bring it all together. The great thing about this cake is that you don't have to worry about how it looks. Yes, it will sink in the middle and yes the sides will cave in and be all wonky. But that's ok, because it's what's inside that matters. Warm, moist brownie cake with chunks of extra soft poached pears. And no flour. Just yumminess.
This gluten-free cake, actually more like brownie, is moist, decadent and sinfully delicious. It may not be as pretty as other cakes but what it lacks for in looks, it makes up for in taste. The original recipe called for pureed chestnuts, but I had some pears on hand and decided to add those to the mix instead. I love the combination of chocolate and pears....so yummy! Warning: this cake is very rich but certainly worth the indulgence.
chocolate pear brownie cake
Yields one 9-inch cake
Recipe adapted from Weekend Baking by Sarah Randell
6 1/2 oz (200 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 poached pears, cubed (recipe below)
For poached pears:
For poached pears:
2 medium-sized pears (I used Bartlett)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water(you can also add half a split vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, anise stars, ginger, etc for taste)
For the poached pears: Peel, core and cut pears in half. In a small sauce pan, bring the water, sugar and any addition to a boil, add the pears and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer about 15-25 minutes until you can easily poke through with a knife. Drain and leave to cool completely. Cut in cubes when cooled.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9-inch springform pan and set aside. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water (bain-marie). Stir until the chocolate and butter have melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Take the bowl off the heat and let cool slightly.
Put the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and clean the mixer bowl and whisk for the egg whites if you are using the same one. (Note that it is imperative for egg whites to be whisked in a super clean bowl free of grease, otherwise your whites won't rise). Whisk the whites until they form medium peaks, then start adding the 1/4 cup of sugar a little at a time while whisking until stiff peaks.
Using a large, clean spatula, carefully fold the poached pears and the melted chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Finally, fold the beaten egg whites into the whole mixture. Be as gentle as possible so that you keep as much air in the mixture as possible. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until well risen and sides come out clean when a toothpick is inserted. The centre will be moist but that's why it's so good! It will sink in the middle, but it's normal. Leave to cool completely. When ready to serve, carefully remove cake from pan and lightly dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder.