Let's say it's a Saturday night. You've worked all week at jobs that you love but that are totally exhausting. Your husband is at work, leaving you all alone to empty the dishwasher and clear out your DVR. As you're trying to throw a Tupperware lid onto a top shelf, it falls to the ground. You lean over to pick it up and as you're standing, you crack your head on the very sharp edge of the microwave that never quite fit into the nook you tried to stuff it into. You end up on your knees on the floor and when you stand up, your head hurts. So you put your hand to your head and when you reach back and look at it, it's covered in blood.
After applying pressure to your head with a dishtowel that you're never going to use again, you figure that the only thing to do is make a bittersweet chocolate and pear cake.
Don't worry, I'm totally fine, except that now I have both dried blood and cake batter in my hair. Sometimes I think that my grandmother's mental illness really has manifested itself in my brain (my hair?).
This is one of those recipes that I glanced at online and decided it would be easy to make since I have a thousand pears and I don't like them very much. When I started making it, I realized it was a super crazy recipe. But I soldiered on.
Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake - via (where else?) Smitten Kitchen
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 bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips. They are my favorite things ever. If you've ever had a dessert I made, I probably used them)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (or just turn it on and pray if your oven is demented, like mine is). Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside (or ya know, don't. I didn't).
Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume. This step is crazy cool. I love using my stand mixer).
While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) 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 flame but keep in a warm spot. Mine got all foamy and had little brown flecks. I think it's okay though. This isn't it - this is my butter pre-browned, but I didn't get a chance to take a brown picture. Whoops.
Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.
Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to loose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. 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. Full disclosure - I left my mixer on high by accident. We'll see how it turns out.
See the little brown flecks from the butter? Yum.
Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top.
I love it when you make a cake where you put stuff on top and then the batter rises and covers it. Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes or a tester comes out clean.
This cake tastes really good. It's really light and the outside is all crisp but the inside is warm and cakey. Pears are the best when you add chocolate to them. Put some fresh whipped cream on top for an amazing end to a stupid bloody evening.