This dessert may be a relative newcomer compared to other local treats but it is certainly a favourite of Florentines today – you’ll find this combination of pear and chocolate cake in pastry shops and on trattoria menus alike. Sometimes this cake is encased in a shortcrust pastry too, but I love this on its own, particularly when it has a dense melt-in-the-mouth texture like this one. The chocolate part of this cake is modelled on one of my own favourites: a flourless chocolate cake of Elizabeth David’s.
Torta di Pera e Cioccolato (Pear & Chocolate Cake)
- 50g sugar
- 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
- 150g dark chocolate
- 90g unsalted butter, cubed
- 90g caster (superfine) sugar
- 90g almond meal
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder for dusting
- Icing (confectioners’) sugar for dusting (optional)
Combine the sugar with 500ml water in a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Add the pear and poach for 10-15 minutes, or until tender but not too soft (a knife should easily penetrate the flesh without any resistance). Drain and let the pear pieces cool. Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie or double boiler. When melted, remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until the butter has melted. Add the sugar and almond meal, stirring to combine. When the mixture is cool, add the egg yolks. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 22-24cm round springform cake tin and dust with the cocoa powder.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks, then fold them into the chocolate batter. Pour the chocolate mixture into the tin. Arrange the pear pieces on the top of the batter, pushing them slightly in. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. When cool, remove the cake from the cake tin and, just before serving, dust liberally with icing sugar, if desired. Serve in modest slices – this is rather rich.