Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Chocolate and Marsala Poached Pears Cake.

What's life without few healthy addictions here and there? I know that many, like me, cannot go by a day without having a small piece of good quality chocolate or a small glass of wine. Luckily, though I love chocolate, I can control my cravings and limit my consumption. I honestly think that if you have a small piece of good quality dark chocolate (70% and above) you won't feel the need to eat the extra sweet chocolate offerings that are more sugar and cream than chocolate.
I noticed that my chocolate craving is higher in colder weather than warmer one. I guess it's the comforting feeling of chocolate at work!
This winter in Spain has been really weird. We had some really warm spring-like days  while others were icy cold.
The past weekend was one of those rather cold days, and of course for me this weather is all about comfort and soul food.

In this recipe I used two of  my favorite ingredients, chocolate and wine, in a rather easy recipe to make with an amazing result. The recipe will get extra marks from you if you like the taste of spices.

Let´s tackle to the recipe that has two parts.
First you need to poach the pears. For that you need:
  • 3 pears (I used limonera pear)
  • 500 ml Marsala wine
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 strip of orange peel and 1 of lemon 
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 20 g sugar

Peel the pears. In a pot combine the wine, sugar and spices then add the pears and poach for about 20 min. Make sure not to overcook the pears as they will go to the oven again. Remove the pears, and leave the wine to reduce a bit more. You can do this the night before,

For the cake, (enough for a 20 x 11 cm pound cake pan) you need:
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 100 g white sugar and 20 g brown sugar
  • 100 g cake flour
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 g baking powder (a bit less than a tsp)
  • 50 g melted chocolate
  • 75 g of the wine and spices syrup

Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside. Cream the sugar and butter, add the eggs one by one and mix until well combined. Add the chocolate and mix again. When you have an homogeneous mixture, fold in the flour mixture and at last add the wine and mix well. Pour 2/3 batter in the greased and prepared, line the pears, then cover with the rest of the batter. Bake between 35 to 45 min in a preheated oven (180), or until a skewer comes out clean.

This cake has a deep flavor, with a crumblyand melt in your mouth  texture and a soft fruity and spicy heart. For me it's a perfect comforting dessert best enjoyed with a cup of coffee watching a movie after a long day's work.

You can serve the cake as it is, but I wanted some more chocolate so I made a syrup/ganache. If you want to make it you need:
  • 75 g chopped chocolate
  • 75 g cream
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp chocolate liquor (optional)
Combine cream, cocoa powder and honey in a saucepan and heat until all is well combined. Off the heat, add the chocolate and whisk until it melts, add the liquor and your done!

Served alone, with cream or with the warm chocolate ganache, this cake is really worth the try.