Spiced pear and chocolate cakes

Spiced pear and chocolate cakes

Danielle Wood

The poached pears in these cakes are sweet and fragrant. You can give them as a gift in their own right in a big, syrup-filled preserving jar as well as baking them into these individual chocolate cakes. Present the cakes still in their ramekins, or turned out and wrapped in brown muffin wrappers.

Spiced pears


Quantity Ingredient
6 small, firm pears
500g caster sugar
1 litre cold water
10 cloves
10 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks

Chocolate cakes

Quantity Ingredient
25g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons boiling water
60g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
50g caster sugar
50g dark brown soft sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
90g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
icing sugar, for dusting


  1. Peel the pears, leaving the stalks intact, then slice off the bottoms and hollow out to remove the core and seeds.
  2. Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Continue boiling until the sugar has dissolved. Then, add all of the spices and pears to the saucepan and reduce to a simmer. To keep the pears submerged, place some baking paper onto the surface of the syrup and weigh down with a small saucepan lid or plate that fits inside the saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pears are tender. Leave the pears in the syrup and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, start making your chocolate cakes. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly butter 6 ramekins with 120 ml capacity, and place them on a baking tray. Mix the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and boiling water in a small bowl until the ingredients are combined, and then set aside to cool.
  4. Using a food processor with the beater attachment, beat the butter and sugars together for 3–4 minutes, or until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the egg and milk to the butter mixture and beat well.
  5. Into a clean bowl sift the the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir to combine. Still using the food processor, beat in half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and then beat in half of the cooled cocoa mixture. Repeat with the rest of each mixture and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure that all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and press one of the pears into the centre of each. The cake mixture should come about halfway up each pear. Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cakes on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar. Store in a tin or an airtight container for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.
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