Monday, July 19, 2010

Shabbat Dessert Round Up Part 1: Upside Down Pear Chocolate Cake

When Sara asked me to bring desserts for our Shabbat together, I was really excited and immediately accepted. For one thing, it's been a really long time since I've really baked sweets, because I dont eat them and havent had occasion to bring them anywhere, so I considered this an a great opportunity to get back to doing what I love. As soon as I registered dessert, I knew they both were going to involve fruit. One of the best parts of living in Israel, and there are so many, is that their produce is always fresh and seasonal. That means that there are things you can't get all the time, but when it's their season, your know you're getting the best and the freshest. Summer here means plums, nectarines, cherries, grapes, pears and I decided to put to use the pears and plums. I also feel like fruit desserts give the impression of a more healthful choice, even though I know better, and generally a lighter feel. This Upside Down Pear Chocolate Cake comes from a book called Rustic Fruit Desserts, it's title pretty much speaks for itself. I have mentioned it before and have been frustrated that it's fruit combinations dont match the Israeli seasons. This recipe was a great find though for me at this time and so I set off to make it. The hardest part of it was making the caramel. While the caramel making was successful, I didnt wash down the crystals which resulted in a hardened sugar surface on the cake which I ended up peeling off. No caramel there :( I think next time Ill stick to a classic brown sugar-butter caramel for the topping. The rest of the cake was easy to assemble and came together in no time. The resulting cake? Moist, dense and oh so fudgy and rich. Guess I was wrong about fruit lending a lighter feel. Sara nearly swooned over it. I think that means she missed my desserts ;)

Upside Down Pear Chocolate Cake
from Rustic Fruit Desserts

1 tbsp butter or margarine for the pan

Fruit Topping:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced

1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup flour
1/3 cup Dutched cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk or soy milk

Generously butter a nine inch cake pan. Set aside.
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir to make sure all the sugar is moistened. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Cook until the sugar mixture becomes a light amber color. Take care to wash down the sides of the pan either with or water and a pastry brush or by covering the pan with its lid. Once the caramel is ready, pour it carefully into the greased cake pan. Allow the caramel to harden slightly. Carefully arrange the pear slices over the caramel. Preheat the oven to 350 while you make the cake batter.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan. Sift together the dry ingredients. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a mixer. Add the sugar and beat on medium for three minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk beginning and ending with the flour. Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake for 40-45 minutes, taking care not to overbake. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then invert the pan onto a plate. Leave the pan on for five minutes more before unmolding it. Serve warm. Vanilla ice cream would be lovely.

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