Brown Butter, Bittersweet Chocolate, and Pear Cake Recipe

Posted on 2010-12-31 By

Last November, I made this cake from Smitten Kitchen.  I stumbled upon the recipe after searching for a dessert that combined pear and chocolate.  Hoping for a treat that would be relatively quick and easy, this cake looked perfect.  It wasnt until I had already laid out the ingredients, that I realized brown butter played an integral role in this cake.  You may have noticed a theme on Lindsay Cooks, of brown butter worship.  I stir it into Pecan Pie, and cook scrambled eggs with it.  Its that good.

Its so good, that I added brown butter to the title of this cake.  After whipping the eggs into a velvety consistency, you sprinkle the batter with pear and chocolate.  But then, as it cooks, the batter rises and covers them, creating a golden exterior that conceals the treasures within.

Its the kind of cake you could bring to a New Years Day brunch.  It looks like a regular cake, but one bite reveals the perfect trio of brown butter, pear, and chocolate. I like to think it symbolizes the good surprises 2011 will hold.  And either way, its delicious.

Pear Cake Recipe

Make your own Brown Butter, Bittersweet Chocolate, and Pear Cake!

Al Di La’s Torta di Pere [Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake]
Adapted slightly, from Smitten Kitchen, which she published, courtesy of Al Di La Restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn

1 cup all-purpose flour, scooped and leveled with the flat side of a knife
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup sugar
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice, (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 ounces chocolate, chopped to fill 3/4 cup (about 1/2 inch wide)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line with a parchment paper round, butter again and dust with 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.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the butter and cook until dark golden brown in color.  Swirl the pan as the butter melts.  The foam will reside and the butter will have a nutty smell and an amber color after about 6 to 8 minutes.  Scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Using a flexible spatula, scrape all the brown bits and butter into a heat-resistant measuring cup.

Add the sugar to the eggs and whip three minutes.

Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose volume, turn the mixture down to stir.  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, or a tester comes out clean.

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