Almost two years ago, Alex and I met friends for dinner at Al Di La, an always-packed, funky mom-and-pop Italian restaurant in Park Slope that not only doesn’t take reservations, it has no room for you to stand around while you wait for one (unless you go to the adjacent wine bar). It helps to know someone who works there.
Before we went, Alex dug up their menu online (does anyone remember life back when you actually had to arrive at a restaurant to find out what they served? Probably less tripe and rabbits feet on the menu, eh?) and decided at that very moment that we must order the torta di pere, a bittersweet chocolate and pear cake. “Fruit and chocolate together?” I said, “Why is this necessary?” as I had always insisted that they were better apart.
And of course, like all good teaching stories, then we tried it, licked the plate and then I proceeded to spend the next year and a half (until she caved) begging my friend Anna, one of the restaurant’s pastry chefs, for the recipe because, you see, I have no tact at all. Or perhaps the bittersweet chocolate and pear cake was that good. Did I mention it has browned butter in it? Obviously, good manners had to wait.
A nomination! It seems that Smitten Kitchen has been nominated as one of the best-written food blogs (aw, though the people who email me daily with grammatical corrections may beg to differ!) by the Well-Fed Network. Why thank you!
Al Di La’s Torta di Pere [Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake]
Courtesy of Al Di La Restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn
Aside from the chocolate chunks, the bits of pear and the browned butter (like I you need to hear anything else before you take off in the direction of the kitchen) one of the coolest things about baking this cake is the eggs, that are beaten far beyond “combined” or “fluffy” but until they have the volume of a shiny, velvety ribbon of a custard, or in other words, if you have an electric mixer of any sort, this is the time to use it. You don’t want to skimp on this set.
The next coolest thing about this is that as I was making it, I was so befuddled by putting the pear and chocolate pieces on top of the cake, as I clearly remembered them to be inside it. Yet the cake rises up in the oven and tucks them into their fold and, lo, it is a glorious, delicious thing.
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 (I used anjou, but would recommend a softer variety, like a bosc or any other of your favorites)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with breadcrumbs (I cheated and used flour), set aside.
Sift 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. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)
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.
Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.
Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose 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.
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 [updated, thanks for your responses], or a tester comes out clean.
We served it with barely whipped whipped cream with a drop of almond extract in it, but I believe Anna serves it with buttermilk ice cream at the restaurant, which is, the best thing in the entire world, something I have the recipe for and promise to tell you about soon. (I’m just scared to make it because I ate the entire pint she gave me last time by myself. In three days.)
Update 1/27/09: I’ve added more baking suggestions in the comments: in short, please, don’t take your cake out before it is done. Doneness is much more important than baking times.
451 comments on bittersweet chocolate and pear cake
WOW! This looks yummy and easy to make. I love pears and can’t wait to also be changes from the “fruit and/or chocolate” mentality. I’ll call this an exercise to open one’s mind.
@HALF ASSED KITCHEN
love your (pot)handle! thanks for the first laugh of my day
It might be my oven but I’ve had the cake in for about 1h10mins and the tester is still coming out sticky. Smells amazing though!
We live around the corner from Al Di La and this is my FAVORITE dessert. Wow, so excited Anna shared it with you!
Oh my heavens – this looks fantastic!!!
About the eggs: “pale and very thick” meaning… what, exactly? Soft peaks could be so described, but is clearly on the Not Enough side of it, which is why I want to be careful. Dry peaks? that starting-to-separate-again point beyond meringue?
I must make this! Though the restaurant is Italian (and I am Italian), I’ve never seen this cake – except a totally different chocolate, pear and marsala wine cake.
Funnily, “Al di là” means “the other world” and this cake really seams otherwordly. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!
Wow… this looks and sounds fabulous! I’ve tried many of your recipes before and have always steered clear of baking, but this recipe looks too good to pass up!
Oh, as if I didn’t have enough things bookmarked from this page!
The eggs have to be beaten to a ribbon stage, basically. There’s a distinct trail when you pick up the whisk and the eggs fall from the whisk like ribbons. Peaks apply more to egg whites, not whole eggs.
My favorite cookbook source is Tuesday Morning, where I picked up a copy of the “Once Upon a Tart” cookbook. They have a recipe for a chocolate and pear tart that looked interesting. I haven’t made it yet, but am wondering if this is a combination of flavors that we should get to know better.
Whoops! They are in fact whole eggs. That’s what I get for reading recipes before coffee. Thanks, Sara! :D
Goodness Deb, this looks amazing!
What a combo. Thanks for sharing this.
I stopped to vote for you. Your blog is the best! I also look forward to making this cake.
Thanks for getting the recipe! And congrats on the nomination!!
Ooooh mama, pear and chocolate? This sounds drool worthy. I think the egg beating timing will be a little different with my handheld mixer but it certainly sounds worth it!
This sounds fabulous. I’ve prepared several of you recipes and have yet to be disappointed! One question though. Do you think panko bread crumbs would work here, or would it be better to use “regular” bread crumbs? (I may just use flour as you did, since that’s what I have on hand.)
Will also go over to vote for you! And you are absolutely killing me with this one! I just started Weight Watchers!
Wow, when I saw this on Flickr and begged you to post I could only imagine the chocolatey-peary goodness it held, but browned butter and fluffy eggs as well. Lady, you tease us. *dashes to check she has eggs*
Question? Does this cake need to cool completely before unmolding? Can it be unmolded to serve warm??
Like you, I’ve never been a fan of fruit and chocolate, but I’ve tasted pears and chocolate, and they do work well together. I’d like to try this..so thanks.
How gorgeous! I’m always looking for ways to use pears in things.
Congratulations on your well deserved nomination. I follow 70+ food blogs in my google reader, and yours is the only one that I read religiously as soon as there is a new item. I have tried more recipes from your blog than any other blog. Thank you for blogging!
Yum. My twitter vote came through for me! I am definitely making this cake this weekend.
Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I’m hosting a dinner party this weekend and happen to know my guests love pears. I was originally thinking of making pears stuffed with mascarpone and walnuts, but this cake is dessert, kicked up a notch. Can’t wait to try it!
Hmm, I’m usually in the camp that keeps the chocolate seperate from the fruit.. But I think I would make an exception in this case. Thanks for sharing!
Goodness, you keep adding to my ‘list of recipes to try’ pile. . . I try so hard to keep up, but it’s near impossible!
This sounds like something I will make the next time people come over – there is such simplicity to the ingredients but such elegance in how they’re used. Brown butter. Bittersweet chocolate. Sold.
It looks great, though I speak as someone who can’t stomach the idea of chocolate adulterated by pear, orange, strawberry, raspberry or mint.
You said it best, this looks like a “glorious and delicious thing”! Can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for wrangling the recipe for us!
ooooooooooo wow gorgeous, I’ve made pear andchocolate tart before but this is intriguing!! YUM!!!
Boy does this sound good! I want to make it for an upcoming party, but am a little worried about the “1 TABLESPOON” baking powder. I’ve never seen so much used before and in quickly checking other recipes for this on the web, see measurements more like 1 teaspoon or even 1/2 a teaspoon. Could it be a typo? Someone weigh in on this, as I really want to try it!
This looks wickedly good. The combo of chocolate and pears is inspired.
This looks WONDERFUL!
as much I love having the recipe for it, what i really want is to order it from you right now delivered to my doorstep. do you deliver to la?
I am hosting a baby shower in a few weeks and will definitely be making this and the clementine cake. I imagine both would be perfect served with coffee, tea, or punch immediately following canapes.
SOLD. Even though I still have part of the clementine cake sitting in my fridge. That’s what gyms are for, right? Working off cakes?
MMMMMmmm…..Sounds and Looks wonderful. I am going to have to stop checking out your blog, You make me soooooo hungry.
I didn’t realize eating a pint of ice cream over the course of three days was something to feel sheepish about. If I don’t scoop out a separate serving, I can easily take down a whole pint of hagen dazs fro-yo over the course of a single episode of LOST. (hence the predominance of fro-yo over real ice cream in my freezer)
mmmhmm! What is better than chocolate and fruit?
Ahh yes, a “First, Take a Stick of Butter” recipe. Guaranteed to be delicious. And it’s still winter, so all the puffy coats and sweaters cover up any extras.
Is there any way to make this in a ramekin? Surely we can’t be trusted with a full 9 incher!
I’m three for three with your recipies! Next up: this one and the wheat bread you posted not too long ago. Cheers and congrats on a well-deserved nomination!
awww….your gift of persuasion has triumphed! yay you! looks fab!
Another cake for me to try.
I think you and Dorie Greenspan are the only people I trust when it comes to baking (Nick Malgieri too).
I love your mom’s apple cake,
Your mom’s choc chip sour cream cake
Your Gramercy Tavern gingerbread cake
and I love Al Di La (best place in Bklyn….I hear Franny’s is awesome too), so I will be posting another Smitten Kitchen recipe I guess.
I find it very comforting to be among such fine company in my dislike of chocolate and fruit together. And, like the rest of you, I am willing to bet that this is the recipe that’s going to change my mind. MMMMMmmmmm.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been waiting for a recipe like this for four years. In Kyoto, Japan, I had the most amazing pear chocolate cake, and experimented with the combination at my wedding, trying to delight my guests, but gave up as I couldn’t find quite the right combination of flavors. This one looks promising, and I can’t wait to get home from work and try it!
The combination of pears and chocolate is a great one, but one that I use far too little!
do share the buttermilk ice cream recipe! that sounds awesome good! MAYBE it is healthier than Ruth Riechel’s fudgy chocolate ice cream (so rich it wouldn’t melt)? I think so.
the cake looks great. i think i’m going to use up some leftover chopped up chocolate for this (from a chocolate tempering event).
i live only a couple blocks away from al di la for four years now and still haven’t been! always end up somewhere else along the way. but this cake sounds delicious, even if it goes against the very instinctual response of chocolate and fruit = yuck!
I agree with Jeni above, we need the Buttermilk Ice Cream recipe! I just love fruit and chocolate together – don’t think it gets much better!
As always love your photographs – especially the way you set up the eggs in this post.
AHHHHHHH. Must have it immediately. I have been living on poached pears with chocolate ganache lately. I suppose this is a slightly elevated version. Certainly looks worth the extra effort.
And this is so generous of you to share this recipe. It will be on my ‘to try’ list.
I’ve just made the cake and the browned butter flavour is oh so wonderful. I can’t stop eating it. Because I wanted to make it now/today and didn’t have any pears in the house, I used apples instead. Will buy pears for next time. It is delicious.
this cake looks delicious. you made the right choice of asking for the recipe :)
I love that it is so different, but still sounds so good.
I’m not a huge fan of chocolate and fruit together, but if you say this is good, it must be. (…making sure to check for any spelling mistakes lest I be called out on it!)
oh, deb. i LOVE al di la, and i LOVE you.
this is something i absolutely must try.
every time my boyfriend and i go to al di la, we ask about the gelato/ sorbet selection for the evening. so far, i think my favorite combination is the buttermilk gelato with apple cider sorbet and black pepper gelato. the entire staff there is GENIUS.
really- such a pleasure when one of my favorite restaurants and most fervently read food blogs meet in such happy union.
applause on the nomination!
so glad you went with the chocolate option ;o)
Ooo my mom has a fabulous blueberry cake recipe similar to this, where you place the blueberries on top and they become incorporated during baking – it always mystified me! But anyway, this recipe sounds delicious (you had me at “chocolate”!), I think I’ll wait until I’m back at home though, where we have a reliable mixer…
OOOO this looks and sounds so so delicicous I cant wait to make it though I don’t know if I’ll use bitersweet maybe semisweet chocolate.
You just made my boyfriend’s weekend! We have had this cake at al di la several times now, and he has raved, and we have even attempted similar cakes, but they have never been as good. Hurrah! And, thank you! Just a quick question about the browning of the butter. Should that happen over high heat? Medium-high? Does it matter? Thanks again!
I have never combined chocolate and pears. This cakes sounds delicious! And it looks, from the amount of sugar, that it wouldn’t be sickeningly sweet.
does this have to be made in a spring form pan? it sounds absolutely glorious, but i don’t own a spring form pan. any suggestions as to something else i could bake it in, if possible even in the slightest?
Randa — So funny! A friend and I had a cook a thon last month from that book. Made the fennel/rosemary tart, which I’ll get to one of these days, and the chocolate walnut. I was actually pretty disappointed by each. I can’t imagine anything going wrong with the pear, however.
Libby — I am sure either would work. However, I actually only tried the recipe with flour.
Susan — I am sure it would be fine to serve it while still warm.
Judith — The amount is correct. I made it exactly as it is printed. It is high, but it works. The cake is fairly tall… bigger than most 9-inch cakes.
Duo Dishes — I am sure a ramekin would work but make sure you butter it very well. And watch the baking time!
Amber — I usually use medium high. I don’t want to scorch it, but as long as you’re stirring it and scraping from the bottom, it can handle heat
Shannon — I’ve only made it in a springform pan. It was on the tall side; it might be too tall for a layer cake pan with regular 2-inch sides. If you try it, though, do let us know how it goes. I know not everyone has springforms. (But totally think they’re a great, inexpensive investment. Cheesecakes!)
I’m so glad you liked the cake, Deb! Just to quickly respond to one comment, it is 1 Tbs baking powder. (Oh, and we serve it with whipped cream, flavored with vanilla bean and sugar, but I’m sure it’s delicious with buttermilk ice cream too!) The cake is best warm and the day it is made, but I love having a sliver of leftover cake with coffee for breakfast too.
How lucky for all of us that she shared this recipe with you. I’m definitely going to give this a try. It sounds amazing.
Two other quick things! You could bake this in a regular cake pan, but I would line it with parchment since the pears tend to stick to the bottom. I’m actually the only dessert-focused kitchen person there. Calling myself a pastry chef always seems too fancy, but I guess that’s what I do.
Once again, I’m glad you liked the cake. I’ve made the chocolate sorbet recipe and that bittersweet chocolate tart recipe (with a different crust) you’ve posted to rave reviews, so thanks to you too!
Since I had everything on hand, I decided to make this for company tonight. I can’t speak for the completed cake, but I can hardly wait…the batter is AMAZING!
Oh! My very most favorite restaurant in the whole world. I love everything I’ve had there and can’t wait to make this cake. YUM! Thank you.
I wonder what I did wrong- I baked it FOREVER (50+ minutes) and it’s still not cooked. Could it be too many pears? I cannot figure it out.
Perhaps it had taken me longer in my oven, too. Keep baking it. It will eventually set. It’s a deep cake.
Congratulations on the nomination! I sent in my vote for you a couple days ago. This cake sounds incredible, and I love the bits and pieces poking through the top. Thanks for sharing.
Finally a way to use that chunk of good chocolate that’s been hiding in my pantry.
it took me 45 minutes before it sprang back when i touched it…very excited to try it, i always love the recipes you post!
You so need to win the Best Food Blogger award… frankly, i was dumbstruck to see that you were not even *nominated* for the 2008 Weblog Awards! What the hey?
But i digress. This cake looks absolutely heavenly… one of my favorite “tea breads” to make is a pear-chocolate chip loaf with sour cream and cardamom, holy moly.
Can’t wait to give this one a go ;) Thanks for the great photos and instructions, as always!
Congrats on your nomination!
The cake looks too good to be true! Thanks for working the recipe out of your friend Anna =)
Never had pear and chocolate together before, but it looks wonderful.
And I thought Jim and I were the only ppl who deliberate about menus before making reservations.
One of my favorite combinations. This cake sounds heavenly!! Congratulations on the nomination. This blog is truly one of my favorites.
This looks amazing! Thanks for the recipe, we will most definitely be trying this out very, very soon.
I LOVE browned butter. I bet this is fantastic!
Do I need a mixer with a whisk attatchment ?
It will help. You could also use a hand mixer. It’s not that it can’t be whisked by hand, but it will probably take twice as long and be infinitely exhausting. Albeit, a great arm workout.
I added my vote just now. I agree.
This looks wonderful; will make it Sunday for sis-in-law’s birthday. I’m glad I didn’t boycott the site because to your lack of appreciation for cilantro.
Mmm mmm… I had a free night and made this- it is fantastic! Even my cake-hating fiance is raving about it :)
I definitely had to bake it longer than 30 minutes- more like 40 or 45. It set pretty quickly, though, once it decided it was done, so I was glad I was checking it every few minutes.
Thanks for another fabulous recipe!
My Dad grows pears, so I always have ready access to them and I will be making this cake this weekend. And of COURSE fruit and chocolate goes together!! Oh, by-the-way, try letting your pears ripen a little more (put in paper bag with either a banana or apple, D’anjou pears will start to get a yellow tinge to them).
We just finished making the cake, we made it with four pears and that was a good number of pears. I think that the next time I make it I will make it with a half cup of chocolate instead. Question, how important is it to have the eggs at room temperature? I had them at room temp. for 10-15 minutes and my eggs did not thicken to the ribbon consistency. I will definitely make this again, it was delicious!!!
OMG OMG OMG. I’ve lived just a few blocks away from Al Di La for years and my boyfriend is crazy about this tart. The next time he needs spoiling I’ll know just what to do. Thank you for sharing!!
just made this cake – turned out perfectly! took a good 30-35 minutes to bake. what other fillings do you think would go well besides pear and chocolate?
What a fabulous recipe! I put a round of parchment paper in the bottom of the springform pan for easy removal; and buttered the pan and dusted it with flour instead of breadcrumbs. Baked it for 45 – 50 minutes. Delicious!
holy mackerel! it is 7 am and i am sitting in a cube, tucked away in a lonely basement of a governement building in dc, drooling! we’re making your braised short ribs tomorrow for dinner, and we agreed no dessert, but now.. now, i see that i have no choice…..
Just one little “pet peeve” with some of the posters on your blog…..blog in after youve actually TRIED the recipe!!!! We dont need to hear that your gonna do it, will try it tonight, looks so good,…blah blah blah….so much better if one saves their comments for after they’ve tried the recipe. I really like reading about other peoples successes and failures and ingredient subsitutions, etc etc after theyve actually TRIED the recipe…its a more engaging read and we can learn from eachother that way!!!
1. Three days for a pint of ice cream? Pffft. Amateur.
2. Somewhere, once, I had a recipe for something that combined chocolate and orange in an unexpectedly marvelous way. I will throw it at you sometime.
Hi Mora — 15 minutes is probably not enough to get the chill off of them. I usually do it for at least an hour, or leave it in my frighteningly warm bathroom (where they’re pictured in the second photo) for 30.
Julie — Heh. I’ll try harder next time! Promise.
I just voted for you, and you are leading in a landslide at the moment!
The cake sounds awesome – thanks for the recipe. Oh, and I did find a tiny typo: you wrote ‘loose’ instead of ‘lose volume.’ BTW: Yours is the first email I open each day!
Love that recipe! No time to read the comments to check but if you don’t already know, you’re also up for best photography, food, and design on the Bloggies.
Thanks Binnie — now fixed.
Thanks Judith — I can hardly believe it!
3/4 cup chocolate chunks. Hmmm. Could you translate that into ounces, please, to be more precise?
Hi Mora, When I need to warm up eggs, I put them in a bowl, whole and uncracked, with very warm tap water (not too hot) and let them sit for about 5 minutes. It really takes the chill off.
Katie — It will really depend on the size of the chunks you are using. For standard, smallish chocolate chips, 3/4 cup would be 4.5 ounces. But ideally, you’re using something bigger or chunkier for this cake so the weight will vary.
wow! thank you for your persistence in getting this recipe. it sounds divine.
Pears and chocolate..mmm. This looks great. Especially with the browned butter. Makes everything so nutty and rich. Great recipe.
I love the OUAT book. The tomato tart is outstanding, also love the potato/onion, and especially the caramelized onion (without the olives).
THANK YOU. I don’t know what it is, but everything is fine in my life, and suddenly you post a recipe like this, and all activity has to STOP until I can get to the grocery store and buy pears and make this forthwith.
It took 55 minutes in my oven. Big difference between 50 minutes and 55, so yes to what everyone says about checking frequently. I used Ghirardelli 60% baking chips, and added a little more than 3/4 cup so as to evenly distribute them amongst the pears (and I love me my chocolate, so I figured a little more would be a-ok). It was a little more than half a bag, I think.
Such a pretty cake! Hurray!
The Clementine cake was the best! Moist, not heavy, with wonderful flavor of
the clementines. Not too sweet nor too tart. To die for ! Thank you. It reminded me of a walnut cake I had years ago. I like the citrus/ almond flavor of yours much better.
Hi Deb. – I am a serious lurker and lead baker at a west coast university. Saw this cake at 4 am when I arrived and decided thats what the lucky students would be getting for their dessert tonight. I baked it in full sized sheet pans with collars and used liquid egg product ( it took about 45 min to get 24 cups of egg whipped up from a refrigerated state!) The end result was great! Very even and high rise to the cake and it helped me use all the slighlty damaged pears the dining hall sends me. Thanks for the inspiration this morning!
Oh, I love Al Di La! The lines can get intense though. Thanks for this recipe, I can’t wait to try it.
I’m not a huge pear fan, do you think this would work with other fruit and which would you recommend? Pears and chocolate, really?? I guess I trust you on that one.
Also, can I make this in a bundt pan you think?
Thanks and it looks delish!! Can’t wait to make it this weekend I hope.
Deb, Congratulations on your nomination, it is well deserved. On another matter entirely, I can’t help but agree with Maria (post 89) that it is sometimes a trial to read through all of the oohs and ahhs to get to posts that actually inform me about your recipes. I’m not a crabby person by nature . . . just busy, so I was wondering if the people who have questions or comments about a recipe that they have tried could post their comments in italics or capital letters so as to distinguish them from the well deserved accolades. Just a thought………
I *love* Al di la! Near where I went to college! This cake looks fantastic–fruit and chocolate look OK together here to me!
ok, it’s gonna sound like I’m spending my days on blog awards, but I just saw that you are not only nominated for the best food blog – writing award, but also for the best food blog and best photography on the 2009 bloggies (http://2009.bloggies.com/). Some more voting for your readers! :-)
Oh, by the way, I just baked this lovely cake, and it took 40 minutes (in my oven) to set. My question is how to store this beauty if, in the unlikely event, there is any left over. This my be a moot question but does it need refrigeration or can it sit on my counter until breakfast?
Congratulations on so many blogging accomplishments! This cake sounds amazing and the restaurant sounds like a must-try.
You are so modest. You didn’t even mention the Bloggies! Congratulations! This cake sounds incredible. Can’t wait to make it. Your clementine cake was made to rave reviews last week.
Wow! This cake looks amazing! I adore pears and dark chocolate together.
Thanks for your persistence in getting this recipe, I’m definitely going to try it!!
I am responding to my own comment earlier (#101) and saying to resist the urge to add more chocolate. My over-liberal sprinkling of chips was a bit too much. I think it would be better to have the pears shine a bit more than the chocolate. In fact, next time I might even add a little less than 3/4 cup (the horror! I can’t believe I’m contemplating adding LESS than the prescribed amount of chocolate in anything, but there you go).
SmartCookie: I wrapped it in plastic wrap and left it on my counter, and that was fine. I did upend an aluminum bowl over it to hide it from my children.
Maytal, I think this would rock with apples too, but the pears are also perfect.
Mine is in the oven and has been there about 40 minutes – so I’m guessing it will be about 45 before it’s done (the edges are done but the center isn’t). Looks divine! And I’m honored to have the opportunity to make an Al Di La recipe. :)
Looks delish… you are certainly getting some award nominations! I just voted for you over at the Bloggies – congrats. Well deserved!!!
PS Perhaps you can show me how stuff a zucchini better than I did this week? (http://bushbabe.blogspot.com/2009/01/holy-giant-zucchini.html) A challenge?
I am so freaking excited about your blog. I just made this, and it’s amazing. For lactose intolerant folks (like my boyfriend) I subbed Soy Margarine for the butter, and it browned up just fine.
Tonight: Potato stuffed with sausage yumminess!! Hooray!!
(I’d like to put you on my blogroll, if that’s all right)
Uh, boyfriend=husband (blushes). I still make that mistake sometimes, even though it’s been 3 years. I wonder if what that means . . .
Congrats on the award nomination! I just went to vote and, well, not to be too competitive, but they’re going DOWN! You’re kicking some butt!
Wish I had access to restaurants worthy of first degree recipe theft, but alas, I’m stuck with awful chains such as Mimi’s Cafe and McDonald’s. And that’s why I cook.
Thanks for posting recipes worth the calories and gym time!
I made this tonight (for company lunch tomorrow) and it’s about to come out of the oven…the batter tasted delicious and it’s rising a little bit, but not as much as your picture…I had to beat the eggs with a handheld mixer and it was difficult for me to guess the right consistency but I think it will still be great!
question… don’t know where my 9-inch springform walked off to, but all i can find is my 10-inch pan. will this work? any adjustments to quantities? i’m assuming cooking time will be less, since it will be thinner, but do you think it will work out okay?
Deb, this recipe is a winner! My house smells great and I had a piece…then had a second one just to confirm its deliciosity. Thank you! Congrats on the terrific nominations.
I have sadly been on a baking hiatus since christmas, you know, with the new year’s resolution and all… it seems I just found a great reason to get my kitchenaid out again :)
My goodness but that looks good – am thinking about attempting it – maybe I’ll just show my boyfriend and he can make it instead! :) Lovely, lovely blog – will be voting for you in the blog awards!
This was delicious! It was so incredibly perfect. My favourite part was that I had all of the ingredients in my fridge and cupboard! I love recipes like that! I made it with a friend and we baked the cake for about 50 minutes. We did cover it with foil for some of it’s cooking time because we were concerned about how brown the top was getting. This was amazing. Gourmet, but not too hard. I loved the look of the eggs as they beat in the mixer especially once the sugar was added. Thanks for your website Deb. I look forward to each and every new post! One variation that I was thinking would be interesting is forgoing or only adding in 1/4 cup choc. chips and then serving it with chocolate whipping cream.
I was pretty excited to make this today. I ended up using 3 pears and their flavor was definitely center stage. I was a little sad because I felt like the cake was really gooey with the chocolate and pears in the middle, but kinda dry on the outside. I thought I had distributed them evenly but maybe not. If I make it again, I might fold them into the batter rather than sprinkling them on top so I have a more consistent moisture throughout. Oh, and it took about 40 minutes in my oven.
mej – i was just coming back in to write about the same issue! the middle of the cake (especially on the bottom) was definitely gooey. the butter/flour combination on the cakepan surely didn’t help, but i was thinking that my pears were not cut up quite small enough, or maybe there was too much ‘stuff’ in general? next time i will definitely make the pear dice smaller and take more care to distribute evenly (maybe even skewing towards the outer edges).
I made this for an inauguration party last night – oh my goodness, this is one yummy cake! I was a little freaked out about the amount of diced pear generated by 3 pears but it worked out. 3/4 cup bittersweet choc chips seems like to much, it was a little too chocolaty in some spots (I know, too chocolaty is almost an oxymoron). Or maybe the chunks were too big – the bittersweet chips I had were quite large. The cake didn’t rise enough to totally envelope the pears and chocolate (neither did Deb’s, I noticed), but a heavy dusting of powdered sugar corrected that. Maybe it’s my oven, it does bake a little unevenly. Anyhow, another great recipe. Many thanks!
i made this last night for dinner guests and it was amazing. i was nervous about the cook time (50 minutes total) but it came out just right. as for cooking unevenly, it was touch and go for a while, but everything evened out in the end. i’m holding back right now from taking the leftovers and shoving them in my face… i will make this again and again. thanks for the recipe!
Al Di La is our favorite restaurant. This cake is amazing along with the Apricot Almond Tart she used to make. Two of the greatest tasting things we’ve ever had for dessert. Making up the shopping list now. Anna Klinger is a fantastic chef/owner.
I made this cake last night, and everyone loved it!! I made homemade vanilla ice cream w/ dark chocolate truffles to accompany it, but i would love the buttermilk recipe (please). this cake took at least 55 minutes to bake. It’s really good if the chocolate chunks are “chunky.” Thank you for sharing all your wonderful recipes. Thank you, thank you.
Wow. That cake was amazing. It took about 45 minutes. Served it with the almond whipped cream, but added a little Mascarpone cheese as well. You never disappoint!
This cake is a keeper! Next time I have my family together, this is what I’m serving them for dessert, or maybe we’ll just skip the main course and go straight to cake! Thanks a bunch!
Made this yesterday for a dinner party! Delicious!
I made this yesterday… It’s really, really delicious! Everybody who tried it thought it was perfect. It’s rare that I’m ever quick to react about making food I see online, but timing was right (I had access to a stand mixer), and this sounded too good not to try. This definitely goes in my repertoire of Things to Wow People. I’m anxiously awaiting the corresponding Buttermilk Ice Cream recipe; I think that would send this over the moon! Thanks!
The cake is in the oven. It smells divine; my hips are damned.
I made this cake Saturday night. It was wonderful. I had no trouble with the middle being gooey. Thanks for a great recipe.
Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe. Your tips were super helpful and my friends and I ate every last crumb!
I made this over the weekend. I don’t have a 9″ springform, only an 8″ and a 10″. I went with the 10″ and I don’t really recommend it. The cake took 40 min. I found it a little dry on the outside and it didn’t have the great texture in the middle that it sounds like the 9″ cakes have. The pears also weren’t completely soft. It sounds to me like the cake needs to be baked in a 9″ pan in part so it is in the oven long enough to thoroughly soften the pears. Sometimes I have luck adjusting pan sizes, but not this time.
Still, this was a really tasty accompaniment to our West Wing watching, especially with the almond whipped cream, which I will make again and again. (Not sure what I never thought of that! Great tip.)
Made this yesterday but I stopped reading at “about 30 minutes*, or a tester comes out clean.” Totally missed the “Start checking at 30 minutes, but make sure you’ve allocated an hour in case it takes much longer!” After 45 minutes, I pulled it out because the sides were browned. Sadly, the center was still funny. But no leftovers. I will certainly do it again. It a nice not-so-sweet cake. Thanks. Again.
I meant “runny” not “funny”. tee hee
Deb! Thank god you posted this recipe! Due to a shipping snafu I ended up with 3 boxes of pears and have no idea what the hell I’m going to do with all of them.
I just took this cake out of the oven and I hope like hell it’s done all the way through (it was in the oven for nearly 50 minutes). It looks and smells amazing. I absolutely cannot wait to eat it.
Hi Everyone — I am bummed to hear that so many of you are facing cakes with runny centers. Clearly, it needs to bake much longer than 30 minutes (as I warned in the note). Please, please please please please do me a favor and do not take your cakes out of the oven before they are done. Ever. Use a toothpick or cake tester, and when it comes out batter-free, you can take the cake out. Doneness is much more important than baking times, and I’d hate for any more lovely brown butter batters to go to waste because of this. Should your cake be overly brown on top but still not cooked in the middle, cover the cake pan with foil until it is done–it shouldn’t brown further after that.
I made this last week. I used a 10 inch springform and also wondered about the 1 tablespoon of baking powder. Huge success! It was devoured by my family. Thank you Deb for sharing.
I am always making your recipes about a week late, when you have moved on to new things that are on my never ending list of must-make items. We made this for dessert this weekend, and consumed every last morsel. Do I make another of these, or move on to the blood orange tart? Ah, the decisions I must make…
Did we ever get a finally baking time?
I am about to bake this cake. I’m guessing 45-50 mins.
Made it, loved it, and posted a pic on my FaceBook page, where it’s getting LOTS of ink. Well-ripened pears made for lovely soft texture and a touch of sweetness that balanced nicely with the chocolate. It was a big hit with a gal pal of mine who was an Al Di La regular when she lived on Park Slope. One more slice to savor, then taking a shot at the Clementine Cake. Thanks, and cheers!
David, I was hoping to see your cake pic on facebook. Mine is in the oven right now! I will be posting on facebook later.
Mine was in the oven 40 minutes. I should’ve checked it at 35, I think it was just a hair overdone. That didn’t stop people from eating it, though. The springform pan has already been washed, and I’d bet that my neighbor is finishing off the last crumbs from the piece I sent next door….
I finally got around to making this cake and it’s baking as we speak. I’m at about 45 minutes and it’s still not done. I don’t mind waiting though. But what makes me sad is that the pears and the chocolate are still sitting at the top. I don’t know if I didn’t dice them small enough or if I messed up somewhere along the way. I tried very hard to do the flour/butter/egg combination fast but I think I did go over a minute and it did deflate a bit. I’m not sure if that would messed the whole thing up. But maybe next time I’ll just cover the fruit and chocolate with a bit of batter just in case. :-(
this is a silly question but i’m pretty clueless when it comes to baking- can i substitute unsweetened chocolate w/ some extra sugar for the semisweet chocolate? i’m not sure if that sort of substitution only works for recipes that call for melting the chocolate and not ones like these that use chunks. i have a 10 oz unsweetened chocolate baking bar that i accidentally bought a while ago and have yet to use. i can’t wait to try this recipe! i’m going to get a springform pan tomorrow.
Hi gc — No, you shouldn’t in this cake. You can when you are melting chocolate to bake with but with chocolate chunks, the sugar won’t get into them and it will be very bitter (and very sugary all around it).
Made this cake for my family and had to restrain myself from eating all of it (didn’t want to look too piggy) Thanks for a wonderful recipe!
I feel “sacreligious” in admitting that I didnt love this cake (although i ate plenty of it-lolol) The cake batter is awesome! However, I do NOT like the chocolate in it!! The pears were great and I think itd be better if it were all fruit. Im going to try it again with pears and rasberries or pears and blueberries. Does anyone else agree with me?? Has anyone else tried something besides the chocolate?
Wow! I made this the other night just because it looked so wonderful! And the taste was no exception either! It is simple to make, and although some of the steps require a longer period of time, everything comes together pretty quickly! I halved the recipe since my family is not much of dessert-eaters unless its holiday time, but it turned out delicious (even though you cant just half an egg, i just used the smallest ones! :) it worked out) and everyone asked for seconds! It really is amazing how the batter comes up over all the fruit and chocolate also!
Thanks for the great recipe!
I made this on Sunday, baked for 45 minutes, and I also had the soggy center that others have mentioned. Nonetheless, we really liked it and I’ll try it again. I used comice pears, perfectly ripe and cut pretty small, and they were perfect for this recipe. My pears were pretty big, I might use only two next time to see if that helps with the sogginess. Thanks for posting this unusual cake!
OMG – this looks devine.
I just popped it in the oven. My batter deflated significantly while putting in the last addition of flour.
Also, I’m curious about how many of the people that mentioned long baking time have an oven thermometer. Ovens can be off as far as 75 degrees and that would greatly affect baking time. I preheated to 350 but my thermometer read at 300 so I cranked it up a bit more. We’ll see how the baking time is.
34 minutes to a clean cake tester. It didn’t brown to much, looks great.
I made this yesterday. Had a bunch of mishaps during baking, too…
First of all, I never browned butter before, so was nervous about that, and not sure what to expect (I was sorta expecting a mass changing its colour, not the little flakes at the bottom browning while the rest stayed yellow), but I judged by the smell, which was amazing. Glad I did this before everything else, though (then kept it near the stove, on one of those… things you put hot things on, what are they called?); you might want to consider changing the ‘while you whisk the eggs, brown the butter’ in the directions. Two things that need to be watched are a problem for one person cooking. True that the eggs don’t need to much watching, but it’s still too much of a stress-factor, and I found it better to have the butter, pears and chocolate prepared ahead, then when the eggs were whisking doing some cleaning up and measuring flour and sugar.
Ah yes, the flour. The big mishap. I used a measuring cup which is a bit old, and some of the measurements have partially rubbed off, and I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention, so I accidently measured 1 1/4 cup or so, then mixed it with baking powder and salt, then as I was measuring the sugar realized OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE. Judged that it was better to not have enough baking powder than to have too much flour, and through some of the flour away, but was worried it won’t rise well.
Oh yes and I also was kinda nervous about the eggs being in the right consistency, as I wasn’t sure about ‘very thick’, but eventually it seemed enough, and I added the sugar, then stirred in the flour and butter… made some mess of it of course.
But the bottom line is, everything worked! It was GREAT! The dough rose just like you said it would, and actually when we cut the cake we found the fruit and chocolate ended up at the bottom. Very cute.
We ate it with our tea – no powdered sugar on top, no whipped cream, no ice cream, and although I’m sure any of those would have been good, it was just wonderful as-is, warm and moist and wonderful.
Could hardly feel the pear flavour, but they might have been not so flavourful to begin with, and they really added a lot to the texture and moist-ness of the cake.
So just wanted to say thanks! Despite everything that made me worried while making it, it was an amazing cake
Thanks for the recipe. I think my boyfriend had three pieces. Definitely sometinig I’d made again. I have a recipe around for a pear tart with a chocolate crust, which I might dig out for comparison’s sake.
Since you have discovered the beauty of chocolate and pears, I thought you might want to try Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake. I heard her describe it on NPR and just had to have it. It was delicious, even though it uses, of all things, canned pears! Visit the link and scroll down for the recipe.
I made a pear-chocolate cake about a year ago, and now seeing this one, I realize it’s about time I made another! Sounds heavenly!
Margie; Thaqnks for recipe;sounds luscious. I copied recipeand plana to try it soon. Hope you are feeling better. Love, Grandma Lambdin
Deb, your timing couldn’t be better. Some friends just asked me to bring a parve dessert to their Superbowl get-together on Sunday. I have a very good health-foody margarine. I know, I know, but remember, this has to be parve, and this particular margarine generally tastes fine–not great, but fine–in baked stuff. I’ll even try to brown it, which sounds like an important step. But even without browned butter I doubt this recipe will disappoint.
I’m probably going to have a hard time finding a ripe pear of any kind, so I might end up trying it with apples. I hate making too many mods to a new recipe, though, so I’ll be wandering from store to store tonight…
Just made it for mom-in-law’s birthday… can’t wait to eat it. Looks and smells delish!
Deb, I absolutely love your site. I have tried a few recipes and have had much success. I made this cake last night, and husband and I both agreed – the cake and chocolate are great, but we weren’t sure what the pears were doing, really. The fruit just added texture, and not much flavor. I used Bosc per your suggestion, should we have used a different variety, a sweeter one, perhaps? Husband wants me to try the cake again, but with banana slices.
Just ate the first slice… mmmmmmmm mmmmmmmm.
I may not have whipped the eggs for long enough though, as the chocolate and pears stared sinking into the cake mix almost immediately and by the time it was finished cooking, they were all in the centre at the bottom.
It could also have been that the cake rose over the sides of the tin whilst cooking and as it shrunk back the top of the sides were well and truly baked onto the tin. I’ll try baking paper around the sides next time.
A delicious combination of flavours, though as husbands will, mine has a suggestion – chocolate and raspberries. I can go for that.
Sara: I used baking paper – I usually do, instead of butter-and-flour as in the instructions here. For almost every cake (or cookies), except the very very moist ones like brownies or my mum’s apple cake, I find that baking paper is incredibly helpful.
Might not be as pretty when taking the cake out (I do it the simplest way: just take a sheet of paper and put it in the baking pan, folding and squishing as necessary, then put/pour the dough etc., then trim off the bits that stick out too much), but it’s simpler and cleaner, and when the cake is good, like this cake, who cares if the sides have a few creases on them?
The cake just came out of the oven, and the smell is killing me, as I won’t get to taste it until half-time. Most of the pears and chocolate are still lying on top of the cake, and the batter that does show is browned beautifully. My chocolate, left over from my last babka attempt, had a lot of fine bits mixed in, so I should have weighed it rather than going by volume. My guess is that the chocolate probably melted into a layer on top before it got to sink in. I think next time (and there will be a next time!) larger chocolate chunks will give me that delicious-sounding buried treasure of pears and chocolate, but this will still be pretty impressive to my chocoholic friends.
Deb, could these amazingly light, heavily beaten whole eggs work instead of separated eggs with beaten whites? I had no idea whole eggs could be so fluffy. I’d be inclined to do this with all quickbreads and cakes, unless there’s a reason not to.
i made this cake over the weekend and it was great, although i personally found it too sweet. i overbaked it b/c i waited for the top to get brown and the sides and bottom ended up quite dry. it was still delicious, though.
i just tried making it again but reduced the sugar by about half, halved the chocolate and used apples. i think i must have overbeaten the batter b/c it just barely enveloped the apples and chocolate at the bottom while the rest just sat on top of the cake :( i might add the flour and butter by hand next time to avoid that problem.
Thanks to Deb for posting and Anna for releasing the recipe! I made it for my in-laws last weekend and we all enjoyed it thoroughly (in fact, everyone had seconds, even my 2-year-old daughter). Like many posters, I wasn’t 100% confident of when I had beaten the eggs long enough, though Deb’s recommended minutes in the recipe helped a lot. I also found that the very center was less cooked than I would’ve liked and the outer edges were slightly overcooked. I will play around with solutions to that in the future. Overall, though, it was yummy and different.
Deb, your dessert recipes are always my favorites! I made this while the rest of the world was watching the Super Bowl. It is so delicious, despite the fact that my timer stopped working at some point while the cake was baking. The edges are a little dark and dry, but at least I didn’t have any problems with it not being done. I will definitely make this again (after I buy a new timer.) Thanks to Al Di La for sharing their recipe.
I made this tonight, and managed to leave out the baking powder altogether. I noticed the lack when I was mixing, but figured the whipped eggs would provide enough structure. The cake is a little flatter than pictured, of course, but still tasty.
A stand mixer would make this much easier! I used a hand mixer on high, and probably could have beaten the eggs a bit longer without harming the recipe. I’ll have to make this again, *with* the baking powder.
Everyone liked it, even the kids (my eight year old is not a big chocolate fan, so he did his best to eat around the chocolate, though.)
My results were mixed–or perhaps not mixed enough. The Bosc pears provided a certain creamy texture but hardly any flavor. But the cake was exciting, because with this recipe you’ve finally revealed the secret to the Salt Lake Roasting Company’s tart base. Next time I’ll probably leave out the chocolate AND the pears and replace them with apricots.
Deb, you’ve really got me cooking now!
The batter was absolutely divine, but I overcooked it because my pears and chocolate chips all ended up in the center of the cake, so all of my test toothpicks came out grainy. I must admit that I DID add a couple of tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the flour mixture (my mom is a chocoholic and would refuse a dessert with ONLY chocolate chips)… it seems like it would have been magnificent had I not overcooked it. The center is delicious though! :)
Oh, I also used a souffle (French casserole? Dunno, it was round) dish instead of a springform, because my springform is 10′ and whenever I make something with it that’s meant for a 9′, it’s a miserable wreck. Again, think it would have worked had it not been overcooked.
A friend of mine made this for my birthday yesterday and it was wonderful. All because I said I wasn’t really a cake person. Hah.
I usually don’t have problems with baking but had an issue with this one. I know a few people had issues but I don’t think anyone has mentioned this one – mine started to sink about 20 minutes after it had gone in the oven. I don’t think I over stirred / whisked the mixture but could there be any other explanation?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
PS I love your food (and recreating it!)
I have made this 4 times now and I love it. I was hesitant about making it since I am, well, horrible, when it comes to baking. I had to call 3 people to ask if I could borrow a pan and if they thought beating with a mixer would be okay. If I can make this turn out, anyone can do it. I brought in a second cake to my office since the first one garnered a reputation.
I’ve also used frozen fruit mix and chocolate when I found out someone (looking at you boyfriend) had eaten my pears.
And, I love this site, I find something at least once I week that I try.
I just baked this tonight and it was a hit with my family. I did have to bake mine for 55 minutes to get it cooked through the center but it came out perfectly. I covered the top with foil at the 45 minute mark. Maybe the cooking time has something to do with the size of the dicing on the pears and also how juicy they are? We did not find it to be overly sweet… it was just right with the bittersweet chocolate. I would make it again for sure. It sort of reminded me of an apple cake my Mom makes in the Fall. Thanks Deb… it’s a keeper for sure.
Thank you to your friend Anna and you. i am eating it this right this minute warm out of the oven all of 60 seconds, so I guess I should say hot out of the oven… it is heavenly. I baked it 55 min. and it’s perfect. This was the inauguration of buying my KichenAid mixer this afternoon, in large part because of reading this and other mixer-using blog posts of yours. Thank you thank you thank you for blogging. I enjoy it more than words can say. ~Kristin
thank you for sharing this recipe! made this last week for a potluck dinner and everyone really enjoyed it! i only had 2 pears but used the same amount of bittersweet chocolate and it was still unbelievably good…
absolutely perfect. took this to a dinner party on saturday evening and even the *mostly* vegan among us had a slice (with lightly whipped cream!)
it took about 50 minutes in my oven. the 9″ springform worked like a beauty – the batter puffed up and around all the pears and chocolate until the top was golden brown with just a few bits of chocolate and pears teasing through the top. the batter had to be THE best cake batter i’ve ever tasted. that browned butter flavor is astounding.
This cake is absolutely amazing.
I have now made it twice. Both times with panko as the dusting (works well). Once, with bosc pears and once with asian pears (that’s what I had). The Asian pears added a bit more moisture to the cake but it was totally fine.
Baking time for me for both times have been about 35-40 minutes, but I have a convection oven —
The thing that attracted me to this recipe was the brown butter — I make shortbread with brown butter and I think it adds a great complexity to the batter.
Hi Deb – do you think I can make this 2 days in advance? Or how many days will this cake keep? Will it keep better at room temp or in the frig? Thanks!
I think it should keep for two days. I prefer to keep cakes at room temperature.
I just made this cake tonight. I did not have any problems with the cake being undercooked. I cooked it for about 50 mins. It did not get as high as I thought, however, the taste is VERY good. I used my boyfriend, to brown the butter as I took care of the eggs. It worked out perfectly with the timing. It also took away an stress of the timing. This is a cake that I will bake again, and I am sure that it would be great with apples!
this was wonderful! i loved peeking in the oven to see the cake rising over the chocolate and pear chunks, just like you said. it was easy to make, the pears added just the right moist texture, and wow– it totally satisfied any chocolate cravings, too! next time i might even use a little less chocolate… something i never thought i’d say :)
I also made this cake over the rainy weekend (along with the black-bottom cupcakes) and I loved it! The brown butter gives is such a unique flavor, and personally I think the pear and chocolate go really well together.
I made this cake last night and was AMAZED. This will def be a dessert staple in our house – thanks for the recipe!
I made this cake yesterday and despite reading all the comments and baking for just shy of an hour, I ended up with a cake with a gooey middle. My tester came out clean from several test spots, but I wonder if I just kept hitting pear and didn’t ever test a spot that was pure batter. I also used the finger test and the cake was springing back to my touch. My oven temp is fairly accurate; there’s a thermometer in there and I was monitoring the temp throughout baking. My pears weren’t overly ripe, but juicy. Could that have affected the baking? I wish I’d taken a test run with this recipe before making it for company.
ok, let’s all just get real: this cake is a bit finicky. i’ve made it about 5 times now, to different results every time. don’t let this dissuade you: when it works it is just about the best cake ever. some tips i’ve gleaned: first, don’t underbeat the eggs. when in doubt, keep going. the batter should take time to incorporate with the butter – it should be that thick. i’ve done it with both a hand mixer and a kitchenaid, and hand mixer is fine. second, i sprinkle slightly more pear/chocolate on the edges than in the middle so it doesn’t make a crater in the middle. third, i don’t peel my pears and it’s fine. fourth, to Susan’s question, the time it worked best i had used slightly less ripe pears… not sure if it’s a connection but an interesting point. fifth, as everyone knows, keep baking. my oven apparently sucks because i’ve had to go over an hour a bunch of times.
this looks incredible- i also only have an 8 inch and 10 inch pan- a few people said they do not recommend the 10 inch. has anyone tried an 8 inch?
I just finished baking this but used raspberries instead of pears (since I couldn’t find a good pear). It looks like it’s suppose to be more…risen (like a souffle) but mine fell in the middle. I won’t know how it tastes until tonight. :)
i sadly had to move from nyc, but al di la is my most favorite restaurant. THANK YOU so much! you made my day. your blog is amazing.
Just another comment on this to echo those of Sabrina … I’ve made this twice now and it really does seem that the ripeness of the pears has an impact. I made it with pears that were EXTREMELY ripe and despite the cake being done, it had gooey spots that weren’t uncooked batter. They were spots were a chunk of pears had landed and broken down into mush…still good mush, but not ideal. Also sprinkling the pears and chocolate heavier around the edges seems to help.
Oh my. I just made this for a barbecue on Saturday, but may have to make it again this weekend as my birthday cake.
I’ve made this cake twice now … the first time I didn’t have access to a Kitchenaid, so used a hand mixer, which was totally not up to the task and the cake was very low in the middle. I thought the trouble was insufficient volume. No biggie. Trial #2 used the Kitchenaid, got great volume, but the middle still sunk! I can’t tell by your photos if that’s the way it’s supposed to be … (Ahem, that part’s been eaten in the profile shot… : ) Or is my torta too shorta?!?
I live a few blocks from Al Di La. I am not ashamed to say that I have been to Al Di La several times solely to have this cake.
It is SO good. I am so so so so glad you put this recipe up! I can’t wait to make it!
Instead of putting baking powder i put baking soda !!! can you tell i’m a new foodie ? What a disappointment … I’ll give it another try sometime soon but for now i don’t have pears anymore and i’m kind of frustrated …smelled good though !
I came across this recipe about a month ago and finally got around to making it. It was a HUGE success, the tartness of the pears and the sweetness of the chocolate create a wonderful balance. I’ll definitely be making this cake again.
i made this cake for my sister’s 40th birthday party. she had decided that since she liked the pear and chocolate tart-type-thing at a cafe she frequents, pear and chocolate would be the go for her cake. having urged her to pick anything she wanted and not to worry about whether i knew how to make it already, i said “of course” and then thought, “how on earth will i find a pear and chocolate cake recipe that will be special enough for a 40th?”. silly me, i should have known that smitten kitchen would have a recipe for me! although i made some mistakes (i’ve never browned butter before, for instance), the cake turned out absolutely beautiful and i got so many compliments on it. most important of all, my sis was thrilled.
I made this cake last night. After reading the comments I used a tube pan instead of a springform pan, and that solved the sinking middle problem. It still took 50 minutes to finish. I also used unripe bosc pears, which wasn’t the greatest idea. The pears are too crunchy and not sweet enough, but the cake isn’t too wet. The cake tastes better this morning but it definitely needs whipped cream to make it sweeter.
Robin, thanks for the tube pan idea! I made this last night for a dinner party and it was amazing!! I used overly-ripe Anjou pears and choc chips instead of chunks (I went a little crazy with those, but it was ok!). Delicious. My friends loved this dessert. Definitely a keeper, thanks Deb!
I have just discovered your site and I am so fantastically happy and excited. In 2 or 3 days I have already recommended your site to friends and family AND made lists of things to try out ;)
Now for the real stuff… I made this yesterday for the household and will you believe 3/4 of it was gone within 5 minutes of cutting it. A great hit for my working kitchen… What a delicious cake, not too sweet, with the scrumptious pairing of chocolate and fruit, always a plus with me!
I made this cake for a New Years Eve party and received rave reviews. I accompanied it with the recommended barely whipped cream with almond extract…lovely, thank you!
Sebastian, You can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda & 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar for baking powder. I’ve been doing it for years (didn’t like the aluminum & salt in the baking powder) Works great!
i made these just the way they are the first time and found that the cooked pear couldnt stand up to the dark chocolate, so I made it next tiem with pears poached in wine and it just tastes awesome. The cake batter is amazing. Thanks for the recipe
Well, my first attempt is in the oven–all OVER the oven. I used a 9 inch cheesecake pan – removable bottom but the side is a single molded piece of aluminum – not the kind with the latching interlocking band.
The real problem seems to be the depth of the pan, which is 2 inches. Looks to me like it needs 3 inches. I’m sure it will still taste good, but I doubt very much the chocolate and pears will hide in the interior of the cake. Since the batter is going OUT, not UP. I’m sad…
has anyone else used a tube pan instead of a springform? going to make this for a dinner party at the end of the week, and looking for feedback. don’t want a sinky cake! thanks!
Yes, check out comments 203 and 204. Sounds like a success.
love ur site!
quick question… I’m not sure I’ll be able to get nice ripe pears. Usually I find Bosc but they are not too ripe. How does poaching them beforehand sound to you? Would they end up too soft after baking?
Jacob — I haven’t tried it, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work.
I did poach them but I haven’t tasted it yet.
I guess I ended up beating the eggs too much cuz by the time I added the sugar they started deflating and more so with the flour.
The chocolate and pear did not go to the bottom and since I made it in a bundt pan, when I flipped it, some of the chocolate came off.
The middle didn’t inflate as much…
Should I serve it?? I’m somewhat afraid…
Jacob — As long as it is baked through, I think that even with sunken fruit and chocolate you will find it delightful. Or at least I hope you will too.
Another tube pan success – 35 minutes with convection oven. Will be serving tonight. Looks amazing all swaddled in saran on my counter, though! THANKS!
Just wanted to let you know the end of my story…
It came out ok… but since the pear and chocolate stayed in the bottom, the flavors didn’t really mix… and I used dark chocolate chunks…
So basically I’m gonna have to try it again in the near future to get the real blast of deliciousness…
Thnx a lot for ur help!
Oh, I struggled with this one! I made it in the tube pan. Maybe I should have cooled it in the tube pan longer? When I flipped it, it didn’t come out nicely. I was able to sort of mold it together. I took a little bite and it tastes fantastic. I’m sure it will be great for our birthday brunch tomorrow (I’ll plate it individually), but I wish it would have turned out prettier.
Debb, hi!! I just made the cake, just took it out of the oven, and the smell is weird nothing sweet, it smells like scramble eggs, it could be that the brown butter was too hot whe i added it??? I made it for a party tomorrow and i’m afraid to bring it, it’s the first time i made it, because i looks delicious!!!!! also i noticed little black points in the dough (from the butter i think) but i try it and it was so sweet, not bruned flavor at all!! please help!! or maybe I have to do it again??
Someone sent us a dozen pears….oh what to do with them? SK to the rescue. This cake is amazing. The comments, suggestions and experiences expressed in the comments were very helpful. In my experience, the key is in the volume you achieve with the eggs and it changes it’s character depending on how ripe your pears are..but all of these issues are so worth dealing with as the result is superb!!
I just made this cake to take to my in-laws’ house tomorrow. I cannot wait to try it; it looks and smells so good.
I don’t think I’ve commented on your blog before, but I’ve been making a lot of your recipes and I love them. Thank you so much!
I tried baking it today! Ah well, it got a little imperfect despite cooking it for more than 45 minutes but really……it’s the taste. :)
thanks for the recipie!
I tried making this cake again because my helper fell in love with it and wants to bring it out for her upcoming party.We couldn’t resist this cake and ate everything up the next day. It just taste so much more than awesome the next day when the flavours are in full force!
Something I found out how to prevent the cake from crumbling in the middle as what everyone faces is that you have to put a thicker layer of flour (that’s the reason for the breadcrumbs i suppose!) when you dust the pan and don’t press the pears and chocolate down, just let the mixture envelope it like what you said earlier. And once it got baked to 40 minutes from top and bottom heat in the oven, i let it bake further for 10 more minutes using bottom heat only.
Just thought I should share afterall! Hope it helps!
I have made this stunning, yet finicky, cake FIVE TIMES now, and I have some pointers.
The first time I made it, my friends tore it apart in complete silence and fought for seconds. The top of the cake was crisp and caramelized. The cake was dense and nutty. The next few times, something was off – it was delicious, but the texture was sort of soggy, white-bread-ish, underwhelming. So I did some experimenting.
-THE PEARS ARE CRITICAL TO CAKE TEXTURE, as many people have hinted at above. Do not use a perfectly ripe, juicy pear, use a slightly under-ripe one, or the cake gets soggy with all that pear juice. And the pears all sink to the bottom.
-Forget the whole room-temp eggs thing. Not important. I think it was better with cold, fresh eggs. You get volume less quickly, but I think maybe the batter deflates less when you clonk the chocolate and pears onto it, and you get a crispier top and sides.
-Have your pears and chocolate chunks ready to go before you finish your batter- don’t let it sit. Alternate the chocolate and pears when you sprinkle. Don’t squish them down – you’ll hurt the batter.
-Lindt 70% bars, busted up, are great for this.
-You can use your dinky electric hand mixer. I did. Just go at it for a while, until your eggs are pale and ribbony, however long that takes. It’ll happen.
-Switch to a spatula to mix the butter and flour into the eggs, and you won’t overbeat.
-You can make a perfect tea-party sized version by cutting all of the ingredients down by 2/3 (i.e. using 2 eggs) and putting it in a 7-inch springform pan.
-No, the breadcrumbs aren’t necessary. A good butter-and-flour is fine.
-The cake DOES sag in the middle, like a lot of springform-pan cakes. Not a problem.
-Deb is GENIUS with the almond-extract-scented whipped cream. My friends were CRAZY for it with the cake. Don’t skip it – it makes the whole thing. Also nice – pistachio extract, which I’m infatuated with – http://www.theposter.com/otherextracts.html.
-I don’t recommend the tube pan plan. This cake is crunchy at the edge, dense and soft in the middle – you won’t get that with a tube pan. Kaiser makes nice basic “tin” pans that are cheap and get great results. Spring for a springform, and you can make practically everything in it.
Thanks again for this recipe. I adore Al Di La, & appreciate your snagging this from them.
Just made this amazing cake for the first time and it turned out PERFECT! Only thing is I baked it for 1 hour 10 minutes. Maybe it’s because I did it in one of those paper molds (round 9″) although I never noticed before that it effected the baking time. Anyway, I want to try this batter, which is so different from anything else I’ve ever made, with other combinations. If anyone out there has tried something else or has any ideas I’d love to hear them. I was thinking dulce de leche and some kind of nuts…. or strawberries and white chocolate…. or….or… or…
Yesterday, I made this twice. Once after the first. SO GOOD. PERFECT. Light, brown-buttery, pear+chocolate=heaven. I love this, it will become my go-to fruit/cake/anything else cake. It really is shocking how the cake rises up and envelops the pear and chocolate. Thank you so much, Deb. This weekend is my pearfest. Do you have any recipes that could be adapted into pear fritters or doughtnuts?
Deb – I found my way to smittenkitchen from a mom whose kids attend the preschool I own. Not only did she introduce me to you, but for potlucks and staff treat days she brings goodies from your recipes. This cake was fabulous. I am so lucky that not only do I get to read about these culinary delights, but then some one else bakes them for me. Heaven!
I’m going to make this for my man for our one year anniversary. <3
You saved my excellent and very ripe pears! I knew I’d seen a pear-and-chocolate post from you, but recalled nixing it as too difficult. But this is fun and simple! Then I checked the date on the post, and realized–I read this *before* I bought a stand mixer!
While I’m a relatively new reader of your absolutely fantastic blog and already LOVE it, I’ve just recently realized what the “surprise me” button does, and found a whole new appreciation. I cannot wait to make this!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful kitchen trials and tribulations, and sharing your life with us. This blog often makes my day (or at least gives me a great idea for dinner!).
I made this cake for the 2nd time tonight, altering a bit by using diced apples that had been languishing in the bowl. I had all the other ingredients & it’s my husband’s birthday so he gets a SK-signature cake! Ok, slightly off-SK :) First time, I followed the recipe exactly (for my mom’s birthday!) & we *almost* loved it. We liked it but for her (& surprisingly me) too much chocolate. Egads, never thought I’d say that! But the cake flavor – yum! And the slightly sweet, juicy pear – yum! This time I cut out nearly half of apples & chocolate…but now I need to find a middle because I shouldn’t have been so sparse with ’em. I think I lost some of moisture with less apple & the sides really crisped up. Some may like that, I wanted it less so. I will keep practicing! Grateful as usual for a user- (read: amateur-)friendly cake that looks & tastes great!
I have a question; I LOVE to cook and bake and I usually manage without grand equipment. I do not have a mixer….
is it okay that I scramble the eggs by hand? Will I be able to achieve the same ‘ribboning’ effect?
It’s doable but it will take a lot of arm work. This is far beyond scrambling… they’re whipped into a thick, pale yellow ribbon; 9 minutes in a Kitchen Aid is easily double (or more) that by hand. Not to say it isn’t doable — Julia Child did it by hand at the Cordon Bleu!
I am now addicted to the taste of browned butter. Great recipe, thank you.
We absolutely LOVE this cake!! It’s like a desserts from a 5-star restaurant. My husband and I (well, I cant make this cake myself and really need the extra hand) have made this cake thrice in one month. We make it every time we have guests over for dinner. Our last variation was apples instead of pears, and it turned out just as great. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
Currently baking the cake in an 8″ tin feeling tense but loving the smells! 17 minutes to go. Will post back soon and let you know the outcome ….
If you’re using a hand mixer, should you whip the eggs first, then brown the butter? (I only have two hands!)
Beth — Yes, then you can do it in either order. I’d probably brown the butter first, and keep the batter part “moving”.
I am totally tensed… didn’t at all think of doing any math… so I divided the batter amongst 3 4.75″ springform pans and 3 little muffin holes… and well the sight I see through that window in my oven door isn’t pretty. I’m so stupid, but now that just means that whatever disaster comes out of it, I’ll have to eat it all by myself. I’ll let you know how that goes.
A genious combination of pear and chocolate. I reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup and substituted half of the butter with applesauce. It still miraculously turned out…
Just to the cake out of the oven and can’t wait to taste but I’m a bit nervous. Beat it with a hand-mixer for 20min and I still don’t think it was thick enough but i got tired. Also, my butter was looked black when it was done – is that right? or should it be golden?
I finally made this last night…it tastes even more amazing than it sounds!! I couldn’t help myself this morning, and ate a piece for breakfast. Thanks so much for sharing!
Sounds delicious! Could this recipe be adapted for cupcakes? How would I do that? Thanks!
Update: So even with black butter and not mixed enough eggs – this cake came out delicious!! I made it again this time with apples. My son preferred it with apples and I prefer it with pears, either way delicious!! It’s like you can’t go wrong with this cake. One hint: when sprinkling the fruit and chocolate alternate between the two. I also had to cut back one the chocolate which seems insane to me but it works better.
Made this yesterday for a friend and his mom who came to visit – it was incredible! I thought it would be really difficult (as I’m a total baking novice) but I was patient with the eggs (i.e., kept checking Deb’s picture of the eggs beating) and it turned out perfect! The pears I used were a little hard and so the pear flavor didn’t really sing but it was delicious nonetheless. I’m so pleased to have this cake in my back pocket for daytime coffee gatherings as it’s just a little different from the norm but totally accessible. Thanks, Deb!
I don’t consider myself a baker, but I made this wonderful cake yesterday, and have a couple of quick observations: 1) If you’ve ever made a souffle, this is very similar when it comes to maintaining volume, and it’s not a big deal. Just have all your ingredients ready to add, and refrain from overmixing – the comment about adding all the flour in a minute is spot on. 2) I used an immersion blender with a whisk attachment to beat the eggs, and it worked just fine. When it came to adding the flour, I whisked it in using the lowest setting. 3) I suspect using fresh baking powder also helped, when it came to ensuring the cake rose in the oven. 3) Cooking time was 50 minutes for me, and the toothpick test worked like a charm. 4) The cake is actually better the next day – the pear flavor really comes out. 5) Serving with a dollop of marscapone (mine was from Trader Joe’s) is an easy alternative to whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy.
Yummm! Two of my favorite flavors put together in a very creative way.
I have to admit, I didn’t love this. Mine baked up perfectly, and the flavors of the chocolate and pears were well-balanced, but the overall cake was sort of meh. I did find the tip about distributing the pears more around the edges helped my cake bake evenly.
i made this tonight and the fruit and chocolate pieces stayed on top and didn’t sink into the cake at all! i’m not sure where i went wrong. perhaps i overbeat the eggs? i beat them for 10 mins with a handheld mixer, then added the sugar, beat for 3 minutes more, turned the speed down to 2, and added the butter and flour as directed, then once everything had been incorporated, used a spatula to fold it all together. i definitely thought that there were too many fruit pieces and chocolate chunks on top even before putting it in the oven but thought that they would still sink in. instead i got browned pear pieces and melty chocolate on top, and then a cake layer beneath. help! any idea what i should do differently next time?
Did you ever get an answer? The same thing happened to me. :(
Whipped one up, very good texture and taste. I used semi-overipe Boscs and a bar of semisweet Sharffenberger. I skipped the springform pan, the pears and chocolate sank into the cake and it turned out of the pan perfectly. One cup of flour does fill a 10 inch pan if you beat the eggs long enough. I think I might flavor the batter with some vanilla or brandy.
MIne came out perfectly. I made it for a small party and everyone raved about it. Beautiful and subtle.
Finally!!! I made this cake for my daughter’s 1st Bday last night and it came out wonderful!!! I must admit that I had tried it twice before…both had been delicious but they both had come out undercooked. This time it came out perfect. I kept the cake in for about 55 min and after the top was really brown I lowered the heat a bit and kept on checking. The result was an absolutely amazing cake. Thank you thank you.
Oh, wow. This was seriously sublime. I just had a slice warm…and then another little sliver…it is not going to last long. My cake was done after about 48 mins. in the oven. I don’t have a stand mixer, so I used a hand mixer and whipped the eggs for about 12 min. I’m sure the cake might have been a little taller if I’d used a better mixer, but it still looked great. Many (belated) thanks, Deb and Anna!
Hi, where it says ‘sugar’ is this brown sugar, caster sugar, or icing sugar? Looks like a great cake!
When not specified, simply granulated/white sugar.
Thankyou so much Deb!
greetings from melbourne, Australia. Love the site. I cooked the bittersweet chocolate and pear cake yesterday for my extended family, great success, but think next time I might soak the pears in some pear liquor beforehand to give it an additional “kick”
My boyfriend ordered this to share last night at Al di La last night. He said (half seriously), I’ll bet you could figure out how to make this. Why don’t you make it for Christmas dinner?
There’s no way I would have guessed what to do with the eggs, let alone anything else, but now, thanks to you, I can make his Christmas dessert dreams come true. Thank you so much.
Instant Reputation Enhancer.
I took the advice of the handmixer users before me and mixed for about 25 minutes. I too was shocked by the quantity of pear and chocolate to be put on the egg mixture, but the egg really pulls through (after about 60 minutes!)
I don’t know what I was anticipating, but this far exceeded my expectations. The cake is so original, complex and well-balanced.
You are such and inspiration Deb, thank you for helping me buy the gastronomic favor of so many friends.
Just made this cake at 6,000 ft high. I cooked it at 375 degrees for 40 minutes [cake came out a little burnt around the edges so next time maybe cook it for only 35 minutes. should of watched the cake a bit better. my bad.] I used 3/4 tablespoon of baking powder, 2 tbs extra butter, and 2 tbs less sugar. Other then the slightly burnt edges it raised perfectly.
Made this one today after discovering your blog at the recommendation of a friend. Kiddies absolutely devoured this thing. Think it would be good with other seasonal fruits in there as well like berries in the spring or peaches during the summer. Definitely keeping this one in the rotation.
I happened to have pears I really needed to use and some great baking chocolate from Iceland, Al di La is one of my favorite restaurants, and I did a little search on smitten kitchen and it was like the universe was telling me to make this tonight! I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I really didn’t want to do any work.
Since I didn’t have any ice cream or whipped cream, I improvised– GREEK YOGURT (which in my fridge just means very well strained regular yogurt that some people call yogurt cheese) or sour cream gives it a little delicious tanginess. Yum. Cake for breakfast? Yes, please.
I made this cake yesterday. Thank you so so much for sharing the recipe! It’s a beautiful cake; pear and chocolate go brilliantly together and the lightness of the crumb makes you forget it’s made of melted butter and a general sprinkle of chocolate chips, so my husband and I both found it rather addictive. I am definitely going to make this again (and again)!
Oh my! I haven’t baked in so long, and this was just what I was looking for! It turned out wonderfully (although I won’t be putting in extra chocolate next time. It makes it a bit too intense), and you recipes are always worth the hassle of converting to European measurements (forgot my cups in NY).
Thanks for the constantly wonderful recipes. I especially love how excited you get when talking about food. I can relate!
this came up on “surprise me” as I am currently procrastinating on writing a paper! :)
but, to quote my good friend (who happens to also be obsessed with smittenkitchen),
“browned butter is God’s gift to mankind, and proof that He wants us to be happy.”
have a great day! this cake does look AMAZING! :)
do you have weighted measurements for this cake? sounds amazing – I am a culinary grad and prefer weights where possible to create consistent products. I’m going to make this for an italian wine party this weekend.
I didn’t write it up with weights, but most of the ingredients are fairly standard. I use 125g for a cup of all-purpose flour, 200g for a cup of sugar, 113g for a stick of butter. Hope that gets your started.
I have made this 3 times and all tiimes was delicious–and the buttermilk ice cream is great with it….my question is that all times it came out different…I assume from how the eggs are whipped…the first time, the cake slumped and the chocolate and and pears fell in…still tasted great, but…the second time I whipped it longer with the sugar and it looked like it should…the third time was similar, but the chocolate pieces and pears didn’t show as much…something I am doing is not consistent…Am I not adding or mixing the sugar/egg mixture properly?…is the butter too hot when added to the egg and deflates it?…should the butter be cooler?….also, I always get brown spots in the bottom of Le Cruset pot in the browned butter…doesn’t seem to affect the flavor…any advice here?
yummo! tastes best the next day!
Thank God I found your website. I was in a rut, didn’t feel like baking anything until I found this cake. I never thought burnt butter could taste so good!!! The whole house smelled wonderful and the taste…… YUMMMMMMMMM!!!!! Can’t wait to try the other recipes in here.
When you finished your cookbook, please please please make sure it is available in Australia.
I made this last night. It’s really unbelievably delicious, though I think I would have liked it better with slightly less stuff in it. The cake was amazing, fluffy and moist and light, with a nice brown crust (the batter tasted like heaven!), but I felt like I was getting pieces that were mostly pear and chocolate. I know that’s the point, but I thought the cake itself was the real star. I would probably just slightly reduce the proportions of pears and chocolate next time. Thanks!
This was a beauty! We made this last night & ate it whilst watching Moulin Rouge. Possibly one of my best moments this year. Thanks Deb.
this is by far my favorite cake on your website (that I’ve made so far)! it is my go-to-cake and I often serve it to guests or bring it to hosts and have never failed to get a compliment on it.
I want to make it now for Rosh Hashana-do you think it will freeze well?
I’ve never made it so far in advance before…
Just made this with pears fresh off the tree. It’s perfect, you’re wonderful, can’t wait to buy your book!
Hi Deb. This looks delicious. We were at the apple orchard this past weekend and got really carried away. We have a bushel and a half or so right now! Do you think I could swap the pear for apple? I never see apple + chocolate recipes, but I think it *might* be a winner. What do you think? And by the way, I love smittenkitchen and check here for any recipe I want to try or new dish I’m experimenting with. Thanks!
I made this yesterday before I read the comments. I used pears that were quite ripe, which is a mistake. They were too wet and the cake ended up too moist. I’d definitely try this again, definitely with chocolate chunks, and maybe with some other kind of fruit or with nuts. I have a kitchen aid home mixer (not even the artisan model) and my eggs were nicely whipped in about 5 minutes. I was afraid to whip them more because I thought they might break. The whole thing came together so easily it could be a weeknight whip-up, I think. My oven got this done in about 42 minutes, which seems to be on the short side. In any case – this is good!
In the comments section of the following recipe: Al Di La’s Torta di Pere [Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake] there is a question asking if the 1 TBS of baking soda is correct, but I find no answer to the question? Is it correct? And where do I find answers to questions asked in the comments section?
first time user of comments section –
Lynette — The recipe is correct.
I made this over the weekend, and I won’t even tell you how big the slice I brought to work today is. (OK, I’ll tell you: It’s humongoid) My only issue: I added the diced pear first, then topped with the 3/4C of chocolate chunks. The chocolate chunks were fairly small in size, yet they didn’t sink into the cake or quite melt, even. They kept their form on top. ?? I’m thinking that next time I’ll mix the pears and chocolate before I add them to the cake and (deb, cover alex’s ears) cut down on the chocolate to 1/2C. I know, it hurts me, too. If anyone has suggestions for how to avoid this problem without resorting to less chocolate, I’m all ears!
Baking question. So I love your recipes, but I don’t quite get all the alternatingly adding ingredients thing. I know you want to fold the eggs or butter sometimes to make sure it keeps the fluffiness? but adding 1/3 of this, 1/3 of that, then 1/3 of this again blah blah blah seems to be alot of steps. Does it drastically change the texture? (maybe that’s why my cakes are more heavy than fluffy?)
De-lish! I made this cake for the third time and It came out best, third time is a charm. I used Magic cale strips around the out side of the pan. So the center was don, not too goey, and the sides were not over done. I also followed some one suggestion of putting most of the chocolate and pears closer to the edges. I agree this cake is better the second day!!! The Cake gets moister, as I find it a little dry on the first day!!! I love your blog thank you!!!!!!!
I made the cake this weekend, it was divine. As a devout chocolate lover, I was shocked to find I agree with many of the comments and would reduce the amount of chocolate by a smidge and increase the pears, so make the pear shine more.
The cake is even more enjoyable the next day, its moist and such a treat. I found it slightly dry the 1st day.
Hi, it´s just in the oven and smells incredible. I bake twice a week (in order to be better) and so far I use only recepies from your site. Everything I did was very good. Just wanted to let you know that you are amazing. Thanks fr those gorgeus recipes.
Just made one myself and it’s delicious! I used bosc pears and semisweet chocolate chips (just what I had in my kitchen) and it came out great. I think it took approximately 50 minutes for me. Thanks for this awesome recipe!
Could you use a regular cake pan, or is a springform pan a necessity?
You’ll want the depth of a springform (usually 3 inches rather than 2 tall) plus it will be easier to get out of the pan.
This is the best cake ever. It satisfies the fruit dessert craving of my husband, the chocolate craving for me. I make it with old timey hard crisp pears. It’s great.
Oh my, this looks so good! I’m so glad pears are in season where I am right now, this looks amazing! :)
Ok, I just made this deliscious confection…I must say I am glad I read all 288 comments before making it….I was well prepared. I put a knife in it @ 50 mins and it was quite battery still so I cooked in for another 20 – 30 minutes in 10 min intravals…finally the knife was dry…it may be a bit dry but with the moist pears I do not think it will matter..also I never needed to add foil to protect the top, nice and golden and the sides are fine too….can’t wait for desert.
Oy vey, I should have read all the way to the end before making this today, too. I pulled mine out at 55 minutes and I *thought* it was done. Sure enough, the center was runny. Lesson learned. But, it was still delicious!
Reporting my results, a most delicious cake though I personally am not crazy about the chocolate in it, found it over powering..I used Giardelli bar 60% cut up in small pieces. The cake it’s self though was nice and crumbly, just the right density though I had to cook it much longer to achieve doness..I loved the pears in it and that it is not too sweet (besides the chocolate). I would like to try this with peaches, maybe even canned, apples and walnut chunks instead of chocolate, or possible chockolate chip size pieces and a fewer amount. Thank for for such a great recipe. I also made your braised artichokes, amazing!
the fresh cake replaced dinner tonight…
thank you smitten kitchen- waiting for the cookbook!!
This was perfect. I decided to make it as a last-minute simple birthday cake for myself, after ditching a previous plan to make an elaborate layer cake. it was everything i could have hoped for and more. it was dead simple to throw together — the eggs whipped up into a thick velvety foam in my kitchenaid stand mixer while I toasted the butter to a flecked golden brown. i used light brown sugar, 3 diced, peeled ripe juicy green pears, and about half a cup of 70% dark peruvian organic chocolate coins (chopped in half). the resulting cake was fluffy and light, toasted on the outside, slightly sunken in the middle while satisfyingly cooked through. i like to serve it slightly warm, so the chocolate melts a little and the nuttiness of the browned butter shines through. the pear bits are sweet and pear-y, without overpowering or being overly moist or anything. it would have been extra amazing served with a mascarpone whipped cream of some kind, but it was terrific as is. i love that each bite has a slightly different ratio of chocolate and pear. thanks for making my birthday extra special! i will definitely make this again!
This has immediately become our favorite cake and I have made it 3 times since finding the recipe last month. The first time it was perfect but the other two it sunk in the middle. I am beating the eggs with a whisk (small apartment, trying not to accumulate things) and wonder if I did it for longer the first time. Will try that next time. Any other suggestions? Thank you!
Susannah, I suspect your presumption is correct. It’s probably better to beat the eggs longer.
This was my birthday cake also this year. I loved it! I think I doubled the amount of pears, being a fruit lover :) and I had a hard time with the dough. All in all, it came out delicious and the heaviest cake I’ve ever made. Perfect!
I made this yesterday, to bring over to my friends as a coffee cake. I loved how the eggs grew into this voluminous and velvety thing, I loved how the browned butter smelt. I’d never browned butter before, but still, the smell felt so familiar. I then talked to my mother and she told me that my late granny used to serve pasta with browned butter, and that thought made me smile. So, if not for anything else, I thank you for that.
But, there IS something else. There is this amazing cake (which was baking for more than an hour in my convection mini-oven) and was devoured by my friends and yours truly (I also had a slice for dessert today and I bet that my friends are finishing the leftovers as we speak :p). I used comice pears and Lindt 70% chocolate and found the balance of the flavors just perfect.
So, all in all, thanks for (yet another) amazing recipe!
Thank you for this recipe! I am not typically a dessert person, but this was right up my alley. I made it for a group of friends last night and everyone licked their plates clean!
Thanks also for all the notes about baking time. Mine took almost an hour, but I wasn’t worried because I had been warned.
I love your recipes and your writing. This is my first time in the comments section, but not my first SK recipe. I’ll be back for more!
Just made the cake and it is soooo good! I added only half of the baking powder(I dislike the taste of it) and still it came out well. I was also expecting it to be very sweet, but it is not, it is perfect. I’m going to go get seconds…
@ AM: have you made sure that you’re using an aluminum-free baking powder? That’s generally where most of the off-putting taste comes from.
Good to know the cake cak work with less.
This cake is AMAZING. Had no issues at all–I think I even overworked the batter when mixing in the flour and brown butter but all turned out well. Thank you!
I have a convection oven and love it for baking. Do you think it would work for this (I can switch back and forth?) If yes, what temperature would you use?
A wonderful hit at a gathering of friends for New Year’s Eve. I baked it for 53 minutes, tested the middle–I thought I had it right–but no, the dreaded runny center. Just didn’t serve the unbaked batter. Next time, lots more baking time. (Could my 3 Danjou pears have been too much pear?) Any data on the measured amount of pear dice?
Oh so wonderful hot out of the oven with a glass of Shiraz. I was a bit intimidated by the comments above about the cake’s finicky naturem but I beat using a hand mixer and coaxed, poked, and prodded the batter through fifty six minutes of bake time, and it turned out FABULOUSLY. I might not even share the thing, it’s so good. Thank you thank you thank you (and al di la) much for the recipe.
Short version: made it. loved it. making it again.
Longer version: husband needed a cake to take to a staff meeting. had pears, looked for recipe, found this one. (Goddess of luck was smiling at me). Tasting the spatula knew that this was like nothing i had ever tasted before (my first encounter with browned butter). covered with semi-whipped cream which separated by next morning. husband slightly dismayed – cake didn’t look like the usual three layered effort. all his concerns evaporated with the first mouthful. i got loving raving feedback. Making the cake today again – so i get to taste from it! thank you for a fantastic recipe!
I made this cake last week and took a third of it on a short road-trip to share with my dad up in the northeast kingdom. And I’m about to make it again just because it’s plain delicious and deliciously plain & simple to make. Thanks :-)
Made this yesterday. Holla at me, this cake as A-Mazing!
Our French neighbor made a decadent chocolate pear torte for her son’s birthday and I’ve been dying for a recipe. Thank you!
I made this successfully in the fall with normal temps before but I was wondering— my house is poorly insulated and room temperature will likely be around 50 degrees in the kitchen. Will the batter still turn out okay if my eggs are at that “room” temperature?
Rachel — Absolutely. The beating of the eggs warm them up too. You might just find that it takes an extra minute or so to get the right volume.
I made this cake on Sunday, it was SO good. Just had to adjust a bit for my altitude (7,800 ft in Aspen, CO). Awesome post!
AMAZING!! I’ve never made a cake this way before. It got rave reviews from family and friends. I’ve just discovered your site and this was the first recipe I tried from it. I’ll definitely be coming back for more! I wish I lived near Brooklyn. That restaurant sounds fab. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Just made it today and it was wonderful although I didn’t have chocolate chips and I just chopped up a bar of chocolate.
At first I wasn’t so sure whether 50 minutes wouldn’t be too much but the recipe was right so I needn’t have worried.
Made this today for a dinner party tonight and I took it out at 65 minutes, but it truly needed more like an hour ten. Either way, though, it was lovely and lush and nowhere near as rich as I expected, given the browned butter. I was relieved when I tasted a bite–it is the perfect cake. Period. Light and wonderful. Thank you, thank you!!!
(Oh, and by the way, your recipes are giving me quite the reputation for being a good cook–word of mouth has had people essentially inviting themselves over for dinner the past three weekends! I need to start looking up and trying to make your [few and far between, as I recall] failed recipes to earn myself a break ;-P Totally kidding! Keep the good stuff coming! I can nap at work ;-D ).
Made this last night. It was great! I got scared adding the flour and butter and using an 8 inch instead of 9, worried even more about the dampness/humidity in my kitchen (raining cats and dogs here in Htown), but for all that worrying after 50 minutes this baby turned beautifully: light and flavorful!
Okay, I am a total addict of this site but this is the first time I’ve posted a comment. I needed a dessert recipe that did *not* involve large quantities of alcohol and came across this. Not only did it send me straight to the store for the ingredients (as usual), but it has also compelled me to upgrade to a heavy-duty stand mixture for my next attempt! The cake is cooling (40 minutes in a tube pan *seems* to have worked) and I am about to take it to the house of the best baker in town for a trial run… Thanks!!
so fluffy, light & flavorful!
Mmmm. Just made this for a gathering of family and friends. It was a huge hit. It also is one of the only cakes so far that I actually like, so I’m going to probably try other things in the batter (I suspect peaches would make a bettor version of classic summery peach cakes, so that will happen in July, I think. Even if my family will disprove of the lack of chocolate).
It’s gotten to the point that whenever I need to make a special occasion dish I turn to your website and check to see if you have like what I’m looking for. The cakes I’ve made from your recipes are among the best I’ve ever had.
I’ll admit I triple checked that the baking powder was actually a tablespoon, but I figured you wouldn’t have an error that obvious for so many years, so it must be correct. It turned out wonderfully. My cake was done in 30 min. Admittedly, My oven can run a bit hot, but unpredictably so, because it has an insane temperature gradient (I once pulled out a tray of cookies with one corner baked to perfection and the opposite corner inedibly burned).
I was going to make a chocolate pear tart after having a slice last weekend at a food fair… but when I stumbled across your website yesterday I had to make this! Yummy! So delicious, had to have a try even though it was almost bedtime! My cake was done in 40 mins, I lined a regular 9″ pan and baked it in a small convection oven. Oh and I used ripe Packham pears.
I made this with a bunch of pears that fell in my yard from the neighbour’s tree. I used a hand mixer to beat the eggs and it worked fine. I used dark chocolate chips. Took about 50 minutes in the oven and it tastes amazing.
Hi! I made the cake yesterday night and although really good, i have to notice the following: 1 tbsp baking powder was a bit too much as I could taste it, and although I tucked some of the pears underneath the batter to let it rise, it did not do so as the prolonged whipping and leavening let hope for. Still yummy!
I’m making this tonight for about the tenth or eleventh time. Definitely my favorite cake, and I find that it always turns out perfectly. Yum! Thanks Deb!
Deb your recipes are fantastic! Last week I made the pear bread and the chocolate and pear cake is in the oven now. We picked buckets full of pears from an abandoned lot and I’ve been trying out everything pears.
Yummers!! Deb, everything I’ve ever made of yours turns out so well, this included even though I lost volume in the eggs. Thank you for letting me pretend to be a master in the kitchen!
Hey, Deb –
I think I will try this for Thanksgiving this week, but just a couple quick questions:
(1) how far in advance do you think I can make this?
(2) this was probably already answered, but I may very well have missed it > how much should the cake cool before releasing it from the pan?
(3) any special adjustments for my Viking convection oven, either baking temperature or baking time?
This was my 3rd time making this cake and every one I know loves it. This puppy does need to spend a long time in the oven. It’s almost as if the cake needs to be baked and then dried. I baked it at 350 for 50 min, took it out and let it sit for about 3-4 min. Then turned the oven oven down to 225-235 and put it back in for about 15-17 min. Took it out put some foil over the top so that it wouldn’t brow too much, turned the oven down to 150 and put it back in for another 15 min. Turned the oven back up to 250 and let it go for about 14 min. Then back down to 165 for 15 min. At that point it was pretty much done and so was I.
I am sitting here in Aachen, Germany, eating this delicious cake. Your whole website saves us from profound depression in this rainy area. Keep on with it, otherwise we will come over the ocean….
I’ve got my second one in the oven right now! My first one was for Christmas Eve dinner (the big event in my family’s holiday.) It was popular, but I thought I should try it again with riper pears for tonight’s party for more pear flavour (it is perhaps wishful thinking to hope that baking can bring out the flavour in crunchy raw pears.) I also decided to increase the chocolate just a little to a scant cup.
My first one took a whole hour, so I’m not going to test this one for doneness until 50 minutes.
I made this cake following your recipe and after reading most of the comments and recommendations. This is such a lovely cake. There is comfort in this cake. I did make very slight changes to your recipe and ended up with one perfect cake. Thank you so very much.
The adapted recipe is on my blog post this week.
If I increase the ingredients slightly, can I use a 10″ pan?
Hmm. I think this has too much leavener in it. The base of the cake is not unlike a genoise or sponge which has none, so you don’t need so much. I whisked the eggs with the sugar from the start until a ‘ribbon’ was formed, the mixed the flour and butter alternatively in by hand. I used two ripe pears but would cut the chocolate down, as both the chocolate and pears formed a slightly gooey middle as they moved towards the centre when the cake rose (cake completely cooked at 45mins though!) I’d definitely put the pears and chocolate towards the outside next time.
I work in a restaurant and we happen to have lots of chocolate to use up and we have lots of canned pears, of drained could they be a susbstitute for fresh pears thanks!
Yet another excellent recipe from SK. Made it last night for a dinner with friends, One loves pears; the other chocolate. A serious hit. I used anjou pears, just quite not ripe. Next time I will try it with other pears, perhaps slightly softer and riper. And I will try to leave a bit of room on the outer part of the torte.
Made this last night and it was a total hit – even though we had had a big dinner, everyone went for a second slice (always a good sign)!
One general question that occurred to me while my cheap hand-mixer was overheating in my hand after 9 minutes of non-stop mixing: I’ve noticed that your cake recipes very rarely involve separating the eggs, beating the eggwhites until they’re firm and then folding them in with the beaten eggyolks. When my mom taught me to make cakes, though, this was lesson number one – I think almost every recipe she has involves treating eggs this way! Is it just less common in the Anglosaxon baking tradition (I come from Eastern Europe) or is there another reason why you don’t do it?
Ivana — In almost any cake, it can lighten the texture but I think you’re right, it’s less common here. It’s a great trick and worth it whenever you want to put in the effort. I’d also say that American-style cakes tend to be very buttery and soft, so the lightness from egg whites isn’t as urgently needed. But it will probably always be welcome.
Made this cake the other night for friends, as I had pears that were getting very ripe.
It was a hit and totally delicious. My cake was perfectly cooked in 50 mins. Next time I bake it I will put the pears and chocolate on top instead of mixing them in the cake batter, as they all fell to the bottom of the cake. It was still delicious. I made this cake with my 6 month old daughter strapped to me and my 2 1/2 year old son assisting me. I was determined to make this cake!
I am currently making this as dessert for my Mother’s Day Brunch. So excited to see how it will turn out, its in the oven now! Thanks for all the suggestions, it looks delicious!
Amazing cake! Already made it three times and only discovered the recipe two weeks ago… Kind of hard not to eat up the dough though ;)
Could I possible freeze this cake for a future event?
Maryanne — I don’t see why not. Most buttery cakes freeze well.
Everyone has to make this right now. I absolutely insist. Just don’t promise, like I did, that you would bring a cake for a morning tea at work. I made it last night with every intention of taking it to work today…and somehow two of us we ate about a third of it while it was still warm out of the oven…I take no responsibility for my actions – it was too hard to resist. I had absolutely no qualms about lying to my colleagues and telling that I was unwell last night and couldn’t make the promised cake. Just hope they didn’t see the chocolate smeared across my face. Back to the kitchen to polish off the rest of it.
has anyone tried this with gluten free flour mix?
Hi Jane — It doesn’t appear from the comments that anyone has. I think it’s worth a try, however, as so much that’s great about it has little to do with the flour.
I’m thinking of making this for a birthday. Do you think it would bake in a bundt tin to make it a bit more special?
Ignore that! I just scrolled up to comments 203/204
Try adding grated Orange zest.
Hi Deb, Wanted to report that I made this cake with King Arthur Gluten free flour blend. It was wonderful. I didn’t tell my guests that it was gluten free before they tasted it. One of my guests travels all the time and said after the first bite that it tasted just like the delicious cake he gets in Italian hotel lobbies. I think cakes that have a lot of well beaten eggs do very well as gluten free cakes… I was so happy with it. I made 2/3 of the recipe and am kind of ashamed to admit that 3 of us ate the entire cake. It was that good.
PS You must add some xanthum gum if the gluten free flour blend you are using does not have it.
Dear Deb, I came across this recipe last night, when I was looking for a good way to get rid of some pears…I have to admit – delicious!!!! It is a hit at the office and I will definitely make that one of my standard recipes.
I added zests and juice from 1/2 a lemon as well as two tbsp Rum to the pears and let them marinate for 1 hour. The other 1/2 of the zests I added to the sugar.
Thanks for the great recipe! I will definitely become a follower of your blog – all the best from Germany ~Julia
Hi Deb, I just stumbled upon this recipe and it looks incredible. What do you think about using oat flour in place of the regular flour? Thanks! ~Ellie
Considering making this for my boyfriend’s birthday cake, because we both love fruit desserts, but I know he will find the fruit/chocolate combination jarring. Could I substitute the same volume of additional chopped fruit for the chocolate?
Beth — It might work, but the ingredients won’t work exactly the same. Are you looking for a straight pear cake? I also have in the archives a Roasted Apple Spice Sheet Cake (could use pears, too) that you might like as a starting point.
Just made this for a dinner party and it was a big hit! It is SO moist but fluffy at the same time, not dense. The texture reminds me a bit of your mom’s chocolate chip coffee cake actually and the pear flavour came through much more the next day (when I ate it for breakfast). And even though you have to whip the eggs for a long time, this cake is NOT complicated at all! I used an electric hand mixer and still did the butter and eggs at the same time, by whipping the eggs beside the stove and just reaching over to stir the butter every couple minutes. I will probably be using this cake base for a lot of combinations of fruit and flavours!
Just made the cake this morning and I love the batter! The browned butter flavor was great. However, when cooled, all I could taste was the chocolate..no butter, no pears. Sigh. Will try again and will decrease the chocolate and see if that helps. The recipe was very easy and my Kitchen Aid made the egg whipping fast. Will look forward to the summer when I can try this with other fresh fruit.
Hi! I just made 2 of these for tomorrow (excited to eat them!). Any advice on how to store them? Plastic wrap ok? Thanks!
Micah — I’d say room temperature covered with foil or plastic wrap. I’d probably use foil.
Thank you for all the great recipes over the years (love watching Jacob grow). I have pears that I canned with bourbon (!) and vanilla light syrup. How do you think they will substitute for the fresh pears?
Yum! I would drain them well, though and maybe even rinse them? That seems blasphemous… and then just chop and use them. I’m sure it will be delicious. The pear chunks will probably be more tender and soft. And thank you.
Just the encouragement I needed..I will drain them but save the syrup for some delicious cool weather cocktails. That was a fast answer. Now I can make this for my birthday cake tomorrow. You’ll get the credit, as you often do!
Hi Deb, maybe this is stupid question.. But I’ve been putting off purchasing hand held mixer(I seem to be on constant budget) and been baking a lot of things by hand mixing(S’more’s cupcake in the oven as we speak). But this recipe in particular sounds like it really needs mixer to get the eggs to thicken. Or will I be able to do it without still? Also thank you for the cashew butterball cookies. They made my office mates extremely happy and made them realize why they promoted me. :)
Pears preserved in bourbon & vanilla and the ginger-! I forgot there was fresh ginger!-made a perfect birthday cake. The first chilly evening by the firepit will bring more bourbon mixed with the syrup and a little fresh lemon juice. Thanks.
I only recently discovered this wonderful cake via pastryaffair’s version… I don’t know how I missed it as I love your blog, have your book, have made many things (love your mom’s apple cake). I have tried this cake with caramel instead of chocolate, with candied ginger and with almond paste. Also with apples, and now will make it with plums. It is so infinitely adaptable and good every way. Love the browned butter. Would love to try the restaurant sometime… sounds wonderful!
Deb (and the internet), please help!
I have made this cake several times with great success. I am a sleep deprived new mother, however, and this time around I neglected to add the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients (no wonder I was marveling at how well the brown butter taste came through in the batter…).
I realized my error only after the cake finished baking. It looks ok, albeit dense. Do you think I should still bring this to my in-laws for Thanksgiving (rebranding as a torte)? Or will it be a nasty, inedible disaster?
Please, please advise!!!!!
Laura — Of course still bring it. It will be a little more moist and pudding-y, it will probably take longer to bake through, but I think you’ll be just fine in the end. Please don’t leave it home. Nothing a good swish of whipped cream cannot compensate for.
Thank you! It was dense and moist but the flavor was great and everyone still gobbled it up. Served it with french vanilla ice cream and your bittersweet hot fudge sauce – a definite win!
I want to make this but a a bit confused about the butter amount.
We don’t buy butter in sticks in Canada…some of your other recipes say 1 stick or 8 oz. of butter, but this one converts 1 stick to 4 oz.
Can you clarify? thanks so much
Sticks (which I agree are a terrible measurement for anyone outside the U.S.) here are 4 ounces (a quarter-pound; there are four to a box) or 8 tablespoons. You might have seen the 8 in reference to tablespoons. A stick weighs 113 grams. Hope that helps.
That totally makes sense…thanks.
Any advice for transferring this cake from the spring form bottom to a pretty cake dish? Should there be any issues with it sticking to the pan or will it just slide off with a little coaxing? The cake turned out so well, I don’t want to risk messing it up!
Hi Liz — You could do either. I think it’s safe to flip out onto a rack, then plate, but since you’ve already got it in a springform, seems easy enough to pop open the sides and slide it onto the serving plate. Hope it’s a hit. For tomorrow? I think it’s even better on the second day.
I made this last weekend and it was terrific! I’m so impressed that you come back to recipes and comment frequently. Thank you!! Love your cookbook too.
My husband and I just received three boxes of Royal Riviera Pears from Harry & David due to a mix-up regarding zip codes during the holidays. My hubs is an RRP fanatic. We now have 36 pears (help) to eat/use before they, um, rot. I am combing your site for pear recipes and I will make this cake tonight. I prefer chocolate to pears, so this is a win-win for both of us. It sounds delicious!
I have tried this recipe yesterday! Good warm and refrigerated. In the end of mixing, the volume reduced drastrically and I got worried, but the final result was delicious, very light dough. Maybe adding vainilla extract could be a good idea.
pears in the organic box again = new recipe to try!
this was lovely.
light and airy yet still moist. a perfect crumb.
thanks again for a great recipe!
I love your site, It is the first one I go to for inspiration. Loved this cake, and quite resistant, I lowered the temp because It had gone to 450 and accidentally turned it off, it is a gas oven. Well, when I checked 45 min later I realized what happened, thought I was going to have to throw it allaway, but turned the oven back on, left it 30 min, and baked wonderfully, maybe not as high, bit delicious
This recipe is amazing! Made it today for my dad’s birthday, and we all loved it! Super easy to make, tastes great with vanilla ice cream. I used a toothpick to test if the cake was done, and after 50 minutes the tester still wasn’t coming out clean, but then I realized it was because of the pears, whoops! Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you! It was dense and moist but the flavor was great and everyone still gobbled it up. Served it with french vanilla ice cream and your bittersweet hot fudge sauce – a definite win! Awesome !!
Delicious! I have a 10 inch springform and it worked just fine, but it did take almost an hour to bake. I had cut up three pears, but after adding two of them, it seemed like more than enough and it was. Maybe they were larger than normal?
Also, I made the fortunate mistake of cutting up the pears while I browned the butter and ended up letting the butter get darker than usual– and it was delicious. We all had seconds. Apparently, I have not been browning my butter as much as I could. Lesson learned.
hi there, I just made this amazing looking cake and I followed the instructions to a tee but alas the pear and chocolate did not sink into the batter- instead there’s a pool of pear and chocolate sitting in the middle of the cake. Any tips on what may have caused this or what I could do differently next time? The combo of flavours is one of my faves so I’d love to make it again! Thanks :)
I made this cake for the first time recently, and it was beautifully puffed up and fluffy when it just came out of the oven. However, it deflated quite a bit as it cooled down and lost that fluffy texture. While it was still great, I’m wondering if you can help me troubleshoot this issue?
I finally tried making this cake this week–and then I made it twice! On one hand, it was delicious and surprisingly easy even thought the directions sound a little involved. On the other hand, I’m still not sure I have it quite right–so I’ll have to try it a third time. The first time I made it, the cake rose and emveloped the pear and chocolate and did not really slump. But it seemed a little… coarse? tough? dense? With all the air whipped into the batter, I was expecting something a little more delicate/tender (not sure if that’s an accurate expectation). I was using a hand mixer. Comments from Amanda (#224) and of course from Deb (#233 & 239) helped guide me in particular. I decided to try again and make sure to only barely fold in the flour and butter very quickly, in case I had mixed in toughness, and to consider pulling it from the oven sooner in case I had overbaked it the first time a little. Unfortunately, I screwed up instead. My focus on folding quickly made me forget to whip in the sugar altogether! I only realized this after I put the cake in the oven, ugh. Pulled the cake, sprinkled about 1/3 cup of suger over the top and baked it off anyway… So much for trying it a second time to perfect it! The good news is: It was still delicious (pears and chocolate did stay on top). The bad news is: Now I have to buy more pears to try this recipe a third time for my vinal verdict. Lessons learned: 1. Pears and chocolate are delicious together. 2. Maybe cutting sugar from a cake that has other sweeteners is worth trying on purpose woth other recipes :)
I’ve made this several times and it’s amazing without fail. But I’m thinking…I might caramelize the pears before adding them when I make it again this weekend. Has anyone else tried that? Seems like different folks prefer the outcome of soft fruit vs. not-yet-ripe fruit in this cake. Would love to hear experiences!
I made this with gluten free flour for my celiac in-laws and it turned out beautifully!
I am severely lactose intolerant, and also my family tends to prefer desserts that are not so rich. So I substituted 1/4 cup walnut oil and one grated apple for the butter, and also cut the sugar down from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup. I’m also in a very northerly location where it’s difficult to get fresh ripe pears this time of year, so used canned pears and 70% Lindt chocolate. Baking time was only 35 minutes (but also only had on hand a 10-inch springform pan, which might have contributed to a decreased baking time). The result was wonderful–nice delicate flavors and probably lighter than the original recipe. Made it for my husband’s birthday yesterday and everybody loved it.
I really don’t know if I love you more for getting your hands on this recipe or Anna for coming up with it. Either way, it’s the best thing I ate in a long time, thank you!
Unfortunately, I don’t think I will have any left for the party tonight ;) on a more serious notes, a couple of notes.. I personally think this is easier to make in a bigger square pan than springform. The pieces were not huge and the baking time was about 35 mins. I also stirred the pear and chocolate pieces in to the batter instead of sprinkling them on top.
Deb, would you have any suggestions for experimenting with yogurt, nuts etc.?
Sowmya — You could certainly add nuts if you’d like but I’m not sure where the yogurt would be needed. Definitely a dollop is lovely on top though!
Deb, I made a version of this cake for my 30th birthday celebration last week. Tasted the batter before baking and let loose a wild stream of expletives. Best cake batter of my life. Best cake of my life. A revelation. Thank you!
Had an absurd craving for all the almond-y things so it was a hard time choosing between this recipe and your other almond cake recipe (the one made entirely out of marzipan) but in the end the desire for something fluffy with a chocolate surprise in the middle won out, so I combined the 2 recipes and split the difference. Used a standard gluten-free baking mix (fine) and replaced 1/4 cup of the flour with ground almonds. Then added 4 oz. of chunks of marzipan to the pear/dark choc mix for the middle. Baked 30 mins with foil on, last 10 with it off.
Fantastic that comments are still flowing in seven years after original posting. Evidence of a great recipe for a wonderful cake. So, I made it too, and baking time was about 55 mins. There are hundreds of comments and I did my best to read very many of them, but it wasn’t until cake was in the oven that I read the ones about overdoing the chocolate – which was just what I’d done. Rather overpowered the pear, and will be careful with that next time. Also, not sure why, but much of fruit sunk to bottom (too much choc?), as did the centre. A good result demands a bit of practice. And I will certainly try this one again. Daughter and husbsnd both had massive double helpings. Felt very exotic eating a New York cake at home just outside Oslo, Norway. Thank you :-)
Made this tonight–it was so good! totally delicious, and beautiful. We didn’t put anything on it, just ate it as is. The top becomes like a crispy meringue, the pear and chocolate drop to the bottom…everyone went crazy for it. It fed nine people and could have fed ten. We’ll be talking about this cake for a long time!
My daughter in law made this cake for a birthday party and it was fabulous.I plan on making it on a Wednesday and travel with it by car to eat on Saturday. Do you think I can freeze the cake? Also, do you think I can leave it in the pan until Saturday?
You can leave it in a springform because those are always easy to get out later. You can definitely freeze the cake.
I’m a fan of pear and chocolate and just had to make this. But…. Is it supposed to sink in the middle? Did I do something wrong? All the pear and the chocolate just sank right to the bottoms as well. Is that supposed to happen?
Just pointing out this typo: “starting to loose volume”
Thanks, now fixed!
Oh man, brown butter batter is amazing. I’m not usually a spoon-licker but I couldn’t let a speck of that batter go to waste. Fast forward two hours…I just discovered batter on my chin, which presumably got there while I was licking the bowl. I don’t have a springform pan, so I used a nine-inch pie plate. It took about an hour at 350, and then I lowered it to 300 because the top was brown enough and it still needed another 30 minutes! As others have noted, the consistency at the center and edges are quite inconsistent.
I will certainly try Robin’s suggestions of using a Bundt or tube pan next time, or perhaps a muffin tin. I think this recipe would be lovely as individual portions in those fancy brown paper cupcake liners.
Anyone have any thoughts on how this might turn out with apples i stead of pears?? Ive made it once before and LOVED it. I currently have a bunch of apples to use and am craving somehing of this calibre…
just made this. it was super-easy to make and the house smells like a dream!! can’t wait to dig in tomorrow night at new year’s eve dinner!
There must be something weird with the people cautioning against overdoing the chocolate. How is it possible to overdo chocolate?! Haha! :)
I used Scharffen Berger 99% Unsweetened Baking Chocolate Baking Bar. It was perfect.
As I was assembling the cake, I became very suspicious of piling that much pear onto a sponge cake base. It just seemed impossible that the sponge cake could rise against all that weight. I was right. The pear weighed the sponge down, especially in the center, same as other people have reported here. Around the edges where there happened to be less pear, the sponge rose as expected and had great texture. In the middle, it was rather wet and gooey. I didn’t want to bake any longer to see if the center would cook more because I was afraid that the perimeter would become too dry. A too-moist cake can still be great but a too-dry cake might be disaster.
Anyway, the taste was really great. Dark chocolate and pear is a great combo.
Next time, I’ll try sautéeing the pear before to hopefully get rid of the water weight and make it lighter, so as to not weigh down the sponge cake. I think it’d be difficult for the pear to become too cooked (and therefore too mushy) in the time required to bake the cake.
I baked this tonight and ate it directly out of the pan because it is so delicious.
I only had 2 eggs but I happened to have some rogue egg whites in the fridge. I used 2 eggs and roughly 2 whites. I’ve made this cake before and I think this amendment was just fine. The cake rose beautifully around the pears and chocolate.
Do the pears need to be soft before proceeding? I’d like to make this today, but my pears are only semi ripe.
Would they taste awful if you ate them? I’d say if they have that green/dry unripe taste, you might want to give them more time. If they’re just quite firm/crisp but sweet, go for it.
Delightful little cake with nice texture and a breeze to make! However, it did not blow me or my fellow dinner party-goers over with flavor. So, I recommend a few little tweaks. First, I think the batter needs some vanilla. And, I also I think a few sliced almonds on top would add a nice little crunch & probably not sink in too much. Evenly spreading the pears & chocolate does help keep the cake from sinking in the middle. If you want some of the chocolate on the top of the cake, then grate a bit over all the fruit & chocolate. I may add some cinnamon-sugar to my pears next time to amp up the flavor a bit — one of my pears was a bit less ripe & it did affect the taste. I did not bother with the breadcrumbs & used a slightly larger springform pan. Worked fine!! At 40 minutes, way under done. At 48, perfect!
This cake did not work for me, unfortunately. The middle became flat in 5 minutes after removing it from the oven, all the fruit sank to the bottom, and the chocolate-pear combination was not very exciting. The dough itself was great. Either there is something with my oven, or it is simply not my type of cake.
I just made the cake and the chocolate and pear stayed on top. I am a frequent baker and have had few failures and all your recipes have worked in the past. What went wrong? The only other person that mentioned it is Ciara on NOVEMBER 7, 2010 AT 9:56 PM. I didn’t see a response.
I have a dinner party tonight and think I may have to make something else. :(
I made this last week for my MIL’s birthday. It was a beautiful and rustic cake. I added 3/4 tsp ground cardamom and a tsp vanilla extract to the cake batter which I felt elevated the pear and chocolate notes. I baked it 55 minutes but in hindsight wish I’d stopped at 50- it was a bit overdone on the bottom. Served with a lightly sweetened whipped cream and it was a huge hit! Thanks for another elegant and delectable dessert that doesn’t take all day and every pan in the kitchen.
This looks absolutely amazing! I’m going to have to make this…
Oh, yum! My mother used to make a dessert of poached pear and dark chocolate sauce when I was a child. It was always my favourite dessert. This sounds even better!
Congratulations on your nomination as one of the best food blogs. It certainly is well deserved! I have had more pleasure (and compliments on recipes) from this blog than any of the others I’ve subscribed to. In fact, after a few weeks of following this blog, I have dropped the others, because everything I need is here. Keep up the good work and thanks!
When do you unmold it?
I believe I did it when cool — with a springform, you can take your time.
I want to try this recipe ASAP. My mother used to make a chocolate layer cake with sweetened fresh peach slices or peach pie filling between the layers and dark chocolate frosting on the cake. She always believed fruit and chocolate should go together. As an alternative, use cherry or strawberry pie filling between the layers. My daughter the strawberry version so well that she had a strawberry and chocolate cake served as the groom’s cake at her wedding.
This has become a go-to dessert for us. I love making this cake.
Having truly adored the pear/chocolate scones from several years ago, I had high hopes for this recipe, but was disappointed. Perhaps I beat the eggs too much, but the cake was much more delicate than I’d expected, and both chocolate and pear fell straight to the bottom. I agree with a few of the other commenters, that (canNOT believe I’m saying this) the choocolate was a little too much and overpowered the pear/cake taste. Bummed.
I used 1.5 pears and 1/2 cup of chopped chocolate. I planned to use the full amount but it looked like too much once I started sprinkling the pieces on the cake. It came out perfectly.
I’d suggest that maybe 3 pears makes the batter too wet and that is why so many people are having trouble.
Made this tonight, after reading through many of the comments, so did a little adjusting: added some vanilla to the batter with sugar, baked in muffin tin (actually mini cake tins with removal bottoms) but couldn’t be bothered to flour each one so used muffin liners, plus added some chopped hazelnuts to top.
Results so far are that it stuck like glue to muffin liners, and therefore requires a spoon to consume. The vanilla and hazelnuts added an extra layer of yum to a scrumptious cake. They still sank in the middle, and some of the fruit fell to the bottom of each muffin, so they look a bit cake like, but they taste excellent and the delicate batter browns prettily even if it’s a bit fragile.
Not sure I’d try this again in a larger 9″ cake tin as don’t see how it would hold up at all. Might attempt a bundt tin though, and assume fruit and chocolate will sink (or maybe stir through batter and be done with it?) and show on bottom of bundt tin.
I have been trying this cake a few times now. I do bake often but this cake has me stumped. Why is it always sinking in the middle? I have made pan di spagnas in the past and never had this problem. Any suggestions from you would be apprecitated. I dont want to give up on this cake
In original recipe did she use Italian baking powder Pan diAngeli??
I actually think — it’s been years since I had it so don’t hold me to this — that the original cake is a little sinky! It’s just the shape it is, not a baking fail or anything.
I have been dreaming of making this cake for well over a year. I tried to make it today…So! My first concern was: ‘if I dice up the pears ahead of time, are they going to turn an ugly brown?’. I had never browned butter, but I believe it turned out ok. Off I went…I decided not to dice up the pears until after I had browned the butter. I put the room temp eggs in the mixer with the whisk attachment. I then started to peel the pears, cut myself and ran off to get a band aid, all the while the mixer was on and, YES, I over mixed. I was kinda hoping things would be ok, so I finished cutting up the pears. As soon as I poured the batter into the prepared springform pan, it was clear the batter was completely deflated. As was I. Nevertheless, I went on. I spread the batter in the pan, added the pears and chocolate chips over the top and put it into the oven. I left it in 50 min. There was no enveloping of fruit and chocolate by the batter. I have to say, though, that it is delicious! I’m making this thing again. Soon! Thanks for the recipe. :-)
Would this work in a different cake pan if I don’t have a springform?
A few questions:
Could you specify how much volume (weight?) in pear chunks is required? Pears vary greatly in size.
Is it possible to over whip the eggs?
Is the final batter supposed to be very thick?
A suggestion: Since baking is so heavily dependent upon (sort of) precise weights/measures, you might wish to use an automatic conversion app in the recipe. Some of the other cooking & baking sites I use have them and they are so useful, see e.g., King Arthur Flour and TwoSleevers, both of whom allow you to click on your preference for measuring style within a specific recipe.
Question about “In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume.” Does “home machine” mean a home version of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, or does this mean a hand-held mixer? Thanks. I want to make this later this week. If any readers know, please feel free to answer me!
This.is.amazing. To make it gluten free I used almond flour and added an egg. I also used 88% chocolate. It may be my new favorite. Thank you.
I made the cake with apples and dark chocolate. It turned out so good! I would love to taste with milk chocolate and pears but this did it for me. I am a big health freak so it worked because it had less sugar and big on taste. Thanks for the recipe!
I made this tonight. I ended up baking it for 65 minutes. I used 3 pears, 2 Comice and 1 Bosc, and Nestle chocolate chips. Delicious! Very moist. I was looking for a change up from the pear chocolate scones, which I have made many times. New fave! Thanks for all the useful and helpful comments.
Omg wonderful. My timing was off so the butter barely got browned but still this was soooooo good.
My cake just came out of the oven a few minutes ago, and my dad and I each had a slice. It’s delicious! Here are some things I learned:
1. To the people who suggested using less chocolate: thank you! I used just over 1/2 a cup and that feels right. I think I would use smaller chocolate chunks next time I do it though; the concentration of chocolate in one bite can be overwhelming even if the amount as a whole is good.
2. I used about 600 g of Bosc pears (after peeling and dicing), and I’m a bit disappointed by the lack of flavor. Maybe I just got some underripe pears, but if I make this again, I’ll try using a different variety might add to the flavor. I’ll also try using less pear next time, because the middle is almost entirely just pear bits, and the outside edges are where all the cake is. (I have to say though, I love how the fruit/chocolate didn’t all just fall to the bottom!)
3. I substituted 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with cake flour, and I like the results! I’m not sure what it would have been like had I only used all-purpose, but I like the consistency of the cake with that mix.
4. My cake took about 55 minutes to bake completely, and even then I feel like it could have used more time. I added sliced almonds to the top at about 45 minutes, and was surprised that they hadn’t even turned golden by the time I took the cake out!
I hope these notes help anyone attempting this cake in the future (including myself 😊)!
I just made this cake with ripe Bartlett pears and it is wonderful. I wonder if the comments about the cake’s “doneness” really reflect the softness of the pears when cooked in the cake. The chocolate chunks will harden but the pears, when cooked, stay very soft. So, what may seem like undone batter is really soft pear. I baked this cake for barely 40 minutes so the cake itself stayed moist.
Made this for a dinner party yesterday and it was simply OUTSTANDING! Perfectly light and delicious! Can’t wait to make it again!!!
I have made this cake for the third time and following the recipe as written it always comes out perfectly. Bakes for about 45-48 minutes. It is a family favorite
I made this tonight because I was wondering what to do with my pears from our pear tree and came across this delicious sounding treat. The directions were really great but I have the following observations/ extended directions post- oven: 1) I didn’t know if I should cool this cake off before releasing the springform clasp. I waited a few minutes but wonder if I should have let it rest a little more? 2) You shouldn’t flip this cake. The springform pan is really just to make it easy to transfer to a plate or display tray. I made the mistake of flipping this bad boy while hot…. luckily I took pictures before this error:)
After looking at this cake for years, I finally baked it the other night. It took about an hour in the oven, and was very good, but the next night I put it back in the oven for 15 minutes and it was completely spectacular. The top had gotten crustier , and the the interior was a little firmer… a perfect custard. I will definitely make it again, and bake it longer the first night.
More than 10 years after it was posted I finally made this recipe! Took some advice from other commenters by using 2 pears and baked it in a Bundt pan. My cake tester came out clean after about 35 minutes in the Bundt pan. Next time I will add some vanilla to the batter and cut back a bit on the chocolate. I’ll definitely make this again!
Anna is not the pastry chef. She is THE chef and owner with her husband Emiliano.
Never have I been so sad that my springform pan leaks. Is there any way to make this in a traditional cake pan?
If you have a bigger one or one with higher sides, it’s safer. You can also tightly wrap your springform in foil on the outside.
Outstanding. I mean, wow. Delightful golden crust on the top, smooth and creamy pears inside. I served it with bourbon ice cream. I agree that it took a little longer to bake – about 60 minutes. I used two big ripe pears, and Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips. Everyone loved. The kids had seconds.
I made this this afternoon. I’m celiac so used gluten free flour and IT IS DELICIOUS!!! 😊 thank you😋
I made this awesome cake yesterday because I have an abundance of holiday pears and the flavor is amazing, as I expected. I cooked until the tester came out clean.
My issue is that the cake sunk, and I was reading in the comments that this should be a very tall cake. So now I’m trying to troubleshoot! Could it be that 1) eggs were still too cold? 2) beat the eggs/sugar too much? Not enough? 3) added the butter while still too hot? 4) pears too watery/heavy? Any other thoughts?
This will forever be my end of the year, all of the holidays cake. I’ve made it about 8 times over the years — a couple of failures (too much choc, too many pears) — now I just follow the instructions :)
Hello!! I’ve been a huge fan of your blog since I was around nine years old and just starting to bake. My mom swore by Smitten Kitchen and I fell in love through her. The first recipe I ever followed along with was your crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies and now today I’m 22 and it’s still the only chocolate chip recipe I’ll go for. Needless, you rock!!
Today, I made your bittersweet chocolate and pear cake and although the flavor is amazing, the cake is rather dense. I was so excited and so disappointed. Emotional roller coaster. I’m wondering if you have any advice as to what I may have done wrong? Granted, the problem may have been in the baking itself as I got distracted by a poorly timed phone call, took the cake out and then, after it had been sitting on my stovetop for a good fifteen minutes or so, decided it looked a little undercooked and popped it back in the oven for ten-ish more minutes. Do you think this could have done it in? Or might it have been somewhere else I went wrong? I want to attempt this again ASAP and google’s guidance feels unhelpful: add yogurt, use warm butter (I did), use cake flour, don’t over cream, etc… so I thought I would try and attack this problem at the source: You!
Thank you so much in advance for any help you can give! I am such a big fan always! <3
Hello! When you say dense, do you mean dry/overcooked or more that it just has a heavy crumb? Because this isn’t, I would say, a fluffy cake. It’s rich. But it shouldn’t be dry.
Another great cake! The crispy, chewy top was a great surprise. I made this with gf flour and the bottom was a little extra moist like with a lot of gf fruit desserts, but certainly didn’t detract from the whole deliciousness.
I just wanted to report that I made these into muffins (22 minutes bake time) and I felt like I blackened the butter instead of browning, but I used it anyway and it tasted amazing!
The muffins didn’t rise like normal muffins did, just kinda sunk in the middle. I’m thinking this may be alleviated if I mixed the fruit and chocolate through the batter instead of putting it on top next time. Will definitely be making it again!
I just want to report back that I made this again as a muffin, but this time grated the pear instead of chopping and added to the batter instead of putting on top, and it didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. It still tasted amazing, but I think it just tells me that not everything should be muffinized and that I should probably go out and buy a springform pan already.
The chopped pear was definitely better than grated… the grated bits just blended into the batter and didn’t taste like anything. Also I tried not to burn the butter when I browned it, but I think the burnt butter version tasted way better.
What I’m trying to say is, your version is the best and doesn’t need any modification.
I know I’m really late to the party on this one, but just wanted to share that this was another winner! After reading all the comments, I scaled back the pear a bit (2 small anjou, as they were the only ripe ones I could find at the store) and a bit more than a half cup chopped bittersweet chocolate bar. I also carefully spread them over the top, focusing an bit more on the edges. Mine sunk in the middle at about 20 minutes of bake time, and was done around 32 minutes (using a dark nonstick spring form pan). I’m very glad I was watching even though the timer was set for 40 minutes. Even though it sunk, it was cooked through and a big hit with some salted caramel ice cream and an apple pie cider. I want to try this again, because I suspect some of the sinking was due to whipping the eggs too long (I set my artisan stand mixer to 8 for 9 minutes, and it was deflating as I added the sugar in). I think I’ll try adding the sugar around 6 minutes and see how that goes next time.
Not sure if I missed this, but how long do you think this cake keeps at room temperature?
I’d expect it to keep for 3 to 4 days. It will keep longer in the fridge, probably 1 week.
Should the pears be on the firm or softer side?
In the oven now and it smells so amazing! Would you please include weights for the recipe measurements? Thanks for the recipe, can’t wait to taste it!