For all the cakes that I have baked, this one right here from Twigg Studios is in my top five. I never would have found it if it wasn't for my brother. Every year, I make it a point to bake him something other than the standard confetti cake. He has an adventurous palette and loves trying new foods. This year, I decided to try the fruit route. He likes pears - heck he even has a guest post on this blog for a cake using canned pears (brace yourself, it's from a time when I didn't have a fancy camera). I had the idea - I just needed some inspiration.
Enter inspiration. Let me tell you what... this recipe made me do a little jig. Sure, I've seen plenty of posts for luscious, dreamy confections that are too sugary to eat but are epic to gaze upon. Don't be intimidated by the pear on top! It's very easy to bake. This cake combines the rustic beauty of a minimalist design and ties it together with three delicious components.
The Cake. Chocolate with almonds? Oh heavens yes. The texture is not super light and fluffy; it's actually a little dense and reminded me of a rich brownie. It's soft with just the right amount of sweetness.
A few little notes. The original post incorporates flaked almonds which I vote as optional depending on your audience. I liked the added dimension but the husband wasn't a fan. If you cannot find golden caster sugar, don't worry about it - regular granulated will do just fine just try to shoot for organic because of the rough crystals. As for the self raising flour, don't bother buying it if you have some all purpose lying around the house- you can make it yourself!
The Frosting. This may sound like blasphemy... but I'm not a huge frosting fan. Generally, buttercream just doesn't do it for me which is why this recipe is such a welcome change. It's made of mascarpone cheese! Now don't make an "ick" face. What many people don't realize is how freaking awesome mascarpone is in desserts. That creamy filling in Italian cannolis? Yup. It can even be found in some tiramisu recipes! Throw in some amaretto (substitute with almond extract if you're avoiding booze), heavy cream, and a little icing sugar.
Another little note because I jumped the gun. Whip the mascarpone and cream together first -- THEN add the other stuff. I used the amaretto with the heavy cream hence my frosting didn't come out looking as smooth as it could have been. The flavor was there though so it's okay.
The Filling. Lastly, the ingredient that made this cake such a show stopper. I've never poached a pear before; the result is akin to roasting but it maintains the shape of fruit better. It's not just that the pear is cooked in warm water - it's cooked with vanilla bean and more amaretto (this time you don't have to substitute - the heat will cook out the booze). Throw a few extra pears in the pan if you're looking for work-time snack! We used them in smoothies and with our morning yogurt!
A sprinkle of crumbled amaretti cookies and almonds in between the layers is optional.
The version that I baked in this post is HALF of the original recipe. It worked out perfectly for three (3) layers using six (6) inch pans. Because the recipe is measured in the metric system, it made halving the ingredients super easy. If you don't have a kitchen scale, it's a well worth investment and they are relatively cheap. Because this version is much more petite, I only needed two pears- one for the topper and one split between the two layers.
My family was head over heels for this cake and the birthday boy gave his seal of approval. I love letting them try new things they would never bake themselves! Plus, they push me to be creative. Yay!
The recipe for this Chocolate, Almond, & Pear Cake can be found on Twigg Studios.