My favorite time of the year is the end of September when summertime evaporates into a fond memory and leaves turn golden and the air turns crisp. Oh wait, that was my former life growing up on the east coast. As Jimmy Kimmel said in his monologue last night referring to the autumn in Los Angeles; that it was a “bone-chilling 95 degrees today”. He went on to say, “that we have one season…and it’s the good one!” I’ll be honest with you, since moving to the west coast I definitely do not miss the other three seasons, but I do have a major hankering for the fall. After residing here for three decades I still bring out the heavy sweaters and boots this time of year, and yeah, I’m sweating profusely in my effort to embrace the season.
It’s time to say good bye to the summertime fruity favorites; strawberries, blueberries, peaches and plums and hello to cranberries, apples, pumpkins and pears. I do love the latter as they harken the start of the holiday season, and all the celebratory family meals ahead of me.
My personal favorite fall fruit is pears. In this gluten-free cake, they are paired with almond meal, sliced almonds and fresh pear puree which results in an overly moist and flavorful cake. I think this Almond Pear Cake will become one of your go-to desserts for the upcoming season.
Almond Pear Cake – Gluten Free
Equipment needed: 10″ spring form pan, large food processor or electric mixer
- 4 pears, any kind, 3 for batter 1 for topping
- 1 3/4 cups sugar plus additional 3 teaspoons
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 1/4 cups ground almond meal
- 8 large eggs, room temp
- 1 teaspoon, plus additional 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon neutral tasting oil (like canola or grape seed)
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and place the rack in the center position. Spray a 10″ spring form pan with cooking spray. PAM original cooking spray is gluten free, however PAM Spray for Baking is not. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit on the bottom of the spring form pan.
- For my cake, I used Bartlett, Anjou and Bosc pears, but any firm ripe pear will work. Peel and core the three pears and then roughly chop them. Place the chopped pears into a small saucepan and add the lemon juice and 3 teaspoons of sugar. Cook the pears over medium heat in the covered pan for 10 minutes. Let cool. When cooled, mash the pears with a fork into a coarse puree.
- Place the almond meal and 1 3/4 cups sugar in the bowl of a large food processor, and give it 5-6 long pulses. (This makes a large quantity of batter, so you’ll need a large food processor, not the mini kind). Add the eggs one at a time, along with 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the pear puree. Pulse until all ingredients are incorporated. Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor, you can use an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the batter into the spring form pan.
- Next, peel and core the fourth pear and slice it into 1/4″ slices. In a medium skillet, heat the oil and the honey stirring until the mixture begins to bubble. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla. Add the pear slices and toss gently to coat.
- Sprinkle the almonds over the top of the cake, and add the pear slices in a pinwheel shape. Spoon the remaining sauce in the pan over the top of the cake. Bake for 55-65 minutes until the cake begins to brown and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. As my cake was starting to brown too much, I placed some foil over the top for the last 10 minutes of baking. Keep in mind that all ovens are different so the baking time is an estimate.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then you can remove the sides. Transfer to a serving platter.
An easy way to cleanly remove the core of the pear is to use a melon baller to scoop out the center.
For this Almond Pear Cake you can use any variety or combination of pears you like. In the past, I have used Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc and Comice pears. Just make sure they are ripe yet firm.
…and more Pears.
A chocolate smackdown. That’s the only way I can describe this Chocolate Flourless Cake. It is a dense cake, with such intense chocolate flavor that I assure you, my food infatuated friends, that a small sliver is all you’ll need. And don’t be alarmed when you take it out of the oven and it seems to slowly deflate and become cracked and dented, that’s what’s supposed to happen. That’s this cake’s natural charm. It’s not about physical perfection in this particular decadent dessert, but about flavor. If you don’t like chocolate, then pal, you came to the wrong blog posting.
I like to serve it lightly dusted with powdered sugar and a dollop of freshly whipped cream. I guarantee, when you serve this to your troops, you’ll look like a real hero. Mama doesn’t lie.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
From Tyler’s Ultimate
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up, plus more to butter the pan
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 9 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter, and using your pastry brush, butter the inside of a 9″ springform pan.
- Using a sharp knife on a cutting board, chop your chocolate into small pieces all approximately the same size for even melting. Cut your butter into pieces and place the chocolate and the butter in a medium sized plastic bowl and melt in the microwave in 20 second increments. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate mixture after each 20 seconds. Be very careful not to burn the chocolate as it will seize.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand-held mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow in color. Mix a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. If you add all the warm chocolate to the egg mixture all at once it will scramble the eggs and we don’t want that. Then add the rest of the chocolate to the eggs.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with a hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Gently add the egg whites to the chocolate mixture being careful not to deflate your egg whites.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared pan.
- Bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack, and when a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it. It took about 50-55 minutes for my cake to bake. All ovens are different, so the time is approximate.
- Let the cake sit in the pan for about 10 minutes before releasing the sides.
- Serve at room temperature. You can dust with powdered sugar, and serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
When separating your eggs; take good care not to get any yolk in the whites or stiff peaks will not form. Also, make sure that your bowl and beaters used to whip the whites are free of any grease as that will cause your whites not to peak.
When adding stiff egg whites to a batter, always do so gently so that you do not deflate the egg whites. Fold in gently with a metal spatula.
When melting chocolate in the microwave; always do it in small increments of 20 seconds so that you do not burn the chocolate. If the chocolate gets too hot it will seize. Always stir with a rubber spatula after each 20 seconds.