Chocolate, pear and hazelnut – three of life’s tastiest ingredients rolled into one delicious cake
“This is a really fudgy and delicious cake that is suitable for gluten-free diets. This cake forms the base of one of my most popular mousse cakes at Sweet Studio but, as you can see here, it stands up really well on its own.”
For the poached pears:
• 150g caster sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
• 2 pears, peeled and cored
For the cake:
• 225g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
• 115g unsalted butter
• 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 90g ground hazelnuts
• 90g rice flour
• 60g hazelnuts, lightly toasted
• 6 egg whites
• 200g caster sugar
• thickened cream, to serve
1 For the poached pears, place the sugar, 500 ml water, the scraped vanilla seeds and lemon zest and juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
2 Add the peeled and cored pears and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for approximately 10–15 minutes or until the pears are soft enough for you to easily insert a paring knife into the flesh.
3 Turn off the heat and allow the pears to cool in the syrup.
4 Once cool, slice each pear into four pieces lengthways.
5 For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C.
6 Grease a 22.5 cm round non-stick springform cake tin. Line the tin with baking paper on the base and side cut to size.
7 Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in the microwave. Melt it on High in short 20-second bursts, stirring well in between each burst.
8 Transfer the chocolate and butter mixture to a mixing bowl.
9 Stir in the egg yolks and mix well, followed by the ground hazelnuts and the rice flour. Mix well again – the mixture will thicken and look separated. Mix in the whole hazelnuts.
10 Whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer until you have a stiff meringue then add the sugar in three batches. The meringue will become a little wet. At this point fold it into the chocolate base in two batches.
11 Pour the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the slices of pear on top, going around in a circle like the hands of a clock.
12 Bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes or until just cooked. You want the centre of the cake to still be a bit moist, as it will go fudgy once cooled. A crust should have formed on top of the cake.
13 Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin before turning it out.
14 Once the cake has cooled, serve it immediately with thickened cream, if desired.
Recipe courtesy of Darren Purchese, extracted from Lamingtons & Lemon Tarts