A sumptuous moist chocolate and pear cake. The quintessence of indulgence, featuring rich French chocolate fondant and stunning perfectly arranged fresh pear slices
Whether you would die for French molten chocolate fondant / lava cake, you’re a pear and chocolate pairing fan or love any dessert with chocolate, this recipe is for you.
Initially, I wanted to create a cake with upright pears, with the tops extending above the batter. You might know what I’m referring to, having seen it in your Instagram feed, maybe?
It’s ultra-stylish and perfect for capturing beautiful food photos. However, I should have had a cake loaf-like texture rather than a fondant-like one for the pears to stand upright, which was different from what I wanted.
I was dying for a cake resembling more than a lava cake than a loaf cake, with an ultra-moist texture. Therefore, I adapted the recipe, prioritizing taste over the visual’ wow effect.
The french word gourmandise
This cake is pure indulgence. In France, we would say c’est de la gourmandise. Gourmandise is a French word we often use when discussing a decadent, indulgent treat, whether sweet or savory.
While gourmandise refers to a treat, gourmand (un gourmand for males une gourmande for females) is the person loving delicious things, and liking it so much that she/he wouldn’t mind having more. In short, that’s me… and maybe you?
A gourmet refers more to selecting fine dining, rare or high-quality ingredients, a delicate or selective palette…
This may not be the most academic explanation, but at least you see what I mean.
Some information about the recipe:
Use dark chocolate with a minimum cocoa percentage of around 52% to 56%. If you use a high percentage of cocoa, then you might want to increase a bit the amount of sugar.
In France, two kinds of chocolates are sold in supermarkets or gourmet stores.
- Chocolat à croquer is dark (chocolat noir), milk (chocolat au lait), and white (chocolat blanc) that are sold mainly in 100 gr tablet format to eat. Croquer is the French verb for crunch or bite into.
- The second type is chocolat dessert, chocolate specially made to be incorporated in pastries. Also black, milk and white. The percentage of cocoa starts at 52% and can go up to more or less 70% – 80%. This recipe was made with the classic “Nestlé chocolat dessert” that is 56% cocoa.
Use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt, or replace the 100 grams of unsalted butter with salted butter. Salted butter works perfectly, but then skip the pinch of salt, please.
You may replace butter with olive oil; however, you won’t get the same result. We want the richness of butter in this dessert.
Brown Sugar, Ideally
This cake is intentionally not very sweet because the pears add generous sweetness, creating a delightful contrast with the rich, chocolatey moistness.
If you prefer sweeter pastries, you can add 25 grams more sugar, increasing it from 75 grams to 100 grams in the recipe.
I chose brown sugar as I like its flavor and I tend to reduce ultra-refined products in my cooking. You can of course replace brown sugar with white sugar.
Use whole eggs mixed into the batter. No egg whites or whipping required. This is a quick and easy recipe.
I use a very small amount of flour, not too much, as we want a texture close to the French classic chocolate fondants, still soft and melting in the center or the flourless chocolate cake I’ve been baking hundreds of times.
Try a gluten-free version of this recipe by removing the flour and potentially substituting it with almond or hazelnut powder.
Selecting and preparing pears
The main pear varieties in France are the small Williams pears and the big Conference pears. Choose the variety you like or find in your country. Quantities given in the ingredient list are 3 big or 6 small pears. I used here 3 Conference pears.
In any case, you need ripe pears. They will slightly soften and release juice in the preparation while baking. For a fancy presentation, I suggest arranging the pears somewhat like for the traditional French Bourdaloue pear and almond tart. Make thin slices while keeping the shape of the half-pear intact.
The step-by-step instructions:
- Peel the pears, cut them in half, and remove the seeds using a small spoon or a cuillère parisienne spoon, the utensil used to make melon balls, for example.
- Then, on your cutting board, make slices lengthwise or widthwise, as you prefer, ensuring that the pear’s shape remains intact.
- Slightly fan out the slices and place the half-pears on top of your chocolate cake batter, ensuring that the pear’s shape remains intact.
- Arrange them in rows, a circle, a mandala shape… Whatever you want, the final look is up to you.
- Press pears slightly into the cake batter, but not too much.
For a quicker version, cut pear pieces, roughly grated or crumbed hem throughout your cake.
For Pear and Chocolate Lovers
Among fruit dessert combinations, the pear-chocolate pairing is undoubtedly one of the best and has many enthusiasts in France.
There’s, of course, the iconic Poire Belle Hélène with its cascading melted chocolate over poached pears. A delight. I explain the fascinating story of this dessert in a complete article.
I often adapt this traditional recipe in my homemade jams. Try adding a few chocolate chunks, but not too many, at the end of the cooking of your pear jam. You’ll for sure be stunned.
You can just add fresh pears, poached pears, or even canned pears in many cakes. And of course, chocolate, in chunks or shavings. For example, when I was a child, yogurt cake was our usual afternoon cake. I used to add canned pears and chocolate roughly grated to have large chunks.
I also have on the blog the same kind of recipe with chestnut flour you should try.
And for crumble and crisps enthusiasts, I suggest placing a few chunks of dark chocolate in your fruit under your crumble topping. Not too much, as we want to add richness and a lovely chocolate flavor without overshadowing the taste of the fruit. For this pear-chocolate crumble, I will soon post the recipe, my extra crisp oatmeal crumble topping is perfect.
Moist and Indulgent Chocolate and Pear Cake
- 200 gr chocolate
- 100 gr butter unsalted
- 1 pinch salt
- 75 gr sugar ideally brown, substitute with white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 50 gr flour
- 3 pears 3 big Conference pears or 6 small, ripe
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
Prepare the cake batter
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or you can use a microwave at low power).
- In a bowl or your food processor, crack the 4 whole eggs. Add the brown sugar and whisk well. Add the flour and a pinch of salt, and mix again.
- Then, add the melted chocolate and butter preparation and combine.
- Grease with butter and flour a cake pan and pour the batter into it.
Prepare the Pears
- Peel the 3 big pears, cut them in half, and remove the seeds with a spoon or the specific cuillère parisienne melon ball spoon utensil. Then, cut them into smaller pieces, either pretty slices as shown in the photos or cubes.
- Place the pear slices on the chocolate cake batter, pressing them in slightly.
- Bake at 180°C (360°F) for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your cake pan. In a 26cm (10-inch) cake pan like mine, where the batter was thin, I baked it for just over 20 minutes.
- After taking the cake out of the oven, wait for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to allow the still-molten chocolate to set slightly. Unmold it onto a plate, then flip the cake onto a second plate so that the pear slices are on top.