Lately I have been feeling like time has been rushing past me at an unbelievable rate, I've been struggling to find enough time to get everything done and I have to admit that I have let things like cleaning the house slide a little as I struggle to fit everything in... I'm not even particularly busy, there are just so many little tasks that all add up into an overwhelming mass and I have been tired and inefficient. I always make sure I find some time to fit in a bit of baking though!
I recently came into possession of rather a lot of pears, my parents have a huge pear tree in their garden which had a bumper crop this year; and I have a couple of small trees in mine. I made a big batch of poached pears to use some of them up and have been enjoying them with porridge or pancakes; I still have quite a few left to get through though so I chucked a pear in this cake as well. Autumn really has come into it's own with apples, pears, blackberries and damsons in abundance; I am just annoyed that I haven't been able to find any sloes as I am rather partial to sloe gin and wanted to make some to enjoy at Christmas; I shall just have to make blackberry gin instead as I have a freezer full of those!
This dark chocolate, pear and hazelnut cake is very autumnal, with juicy pear, crunchy hazelnuts, indulgent dark chocolate chunks (I used Lindt 70%) and a hint of warm cinnamon, all smothered in Lindt 70% dark chocolate ganache. It goes wonderfully with a cup of tea, but also makes a good pudding as it is so chock full of bits and has a fairly soft, crumbly texture. The dark chocolate means that it is not too sweet, and it has a fairly grown up flavour. Served cold it has a firmer texture, with chunks of chocolate, but I also urge you to try it warm, where the chocolate melts and it becomes soft and gooey and just right for serving with custard...
If, like me, you have a crop of pears to get through, these are some of the recipes I have been eyeing up to try, Salted Caramel Pear Tarts by Vikalinka, Pear And Ginger Hand Pies With Ginger Caramel Sauce by Supergolden Bakes, Spiced Pear Vodka by Boulder Locavore, Pear And Walnut Foccacia by Seasons And Suppers or Pear And Ginger Tarte Tatin For Two by me.
Dark Chocolate, Pear And Hazelnut Cake
- 150 g (5oz) 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 75 g (2.5oz) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 large ripe pear cored and diced
- 150 g (½ cup + 2 tbsp) softened butter
- 150 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 150 g (1 + ¼ cups) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 100 g (3.5oz) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 125 ml (½ cup) double cream
- roughly chopped hazelnuts to finish
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease a deep 20cm/8in round cake tin and line with baking parchment.
- Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, add a spoonful of the flour if it looks like the mixture is going to split.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, add this to the butter and egg mixture and mix in on a low speed. Fold in the chocolate, hazelnuts and pear.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until the cake is firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until just boiling then pour it over the chocolate, leave for a couple of minutes then stir until smooth. Pour the ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides, top with chopped hazelnuts and allow to set before serving.