Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chocolate Sensation!

The recipe you're about to see here is a show-stopper. It's not fancy, though, so don't be fooled into thinking that you can't do this. Sure, it may never be served in a Michelin-star restaurant, but it deserves to be. The inspiration for it comes from the oh-so-retro, humble pineapple upside-down cake - remember those?! I think everyone's mother or grandmother had a go-to recipe for that. Most likely it would appear at every party, garnished with those hideously unnatural (just my opinion) maraschino cherries. I'm seeing a resurgence of this pineapple dinosaur once again in the foodie blogosphere. But then, I understand how one can have fond memories of childhood favorites - plus, you all are so creative that you're putting your own spins on it, and making the darn thing look way better than I remember it ever being!

Still. I can top that.

You heard me. I, who am the least confrontational person you'll ever meet (really, I'm a mouse), can bet my last dollar that the version of upside-down cake you're about to see here will blow Granny's tried-and-tested pineapple one out of the water. Kablooee. Vaporized. Sorry Grandma.
See this? This is a magical amalgamation of caramel, pears, and deep, dark chocolate. Not a maraschino cherry in sight. It's bold. It's sexy. It will take you hostage and leave you weeping for more. This cake is for you and your lover, to be savored in the naughty hours of the night. Serve with caution.

Upside-down Caramel-Pear Chocolate Cake (found the recipe on Project Foodie; reprinted from Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More)
Serves 12-14

Click here for printable recipe

Ingredients for caramel-fruit topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into wedges OR use canned pears in a jiff

1. Butter a 9-inch round baking pan.

2. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for 1-2 mins.

3. Uncover the pan and continue to boil, slowly swirling the mixture around to cook the caramel evenly, till it becomes a dark amber color. Occasionally wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water, so that sugar crystals don't form on the sides.

4. Carefully pour the caramel into the baking pan and allow it to harden. Warning: pan will be VERY hot from the sugar!

5. Arrange the pear slices over the slightly cooled caramel in any pattern you desire.
Et voila - my canned pear wedges over the dark caramel base. So far so good. If you make it to this point, you've already passed the hardest part of this recipe - smooth sailing from here on!

Ingredients for the cake:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat and melt, stirring occasionally.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.

3. Transfer the melted chocolate to a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar. Using a handheld mixer, or your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for about 3 mins till fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

5. Stir in the flour mixture in 3 installments, alternating with the milk in 2 installments, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides as you go along.
Go on, lick that spatula. It would be a crime not to.

6. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 40-45 mins. Take it out of the oven and cool in the pan itself for 15 mins. Then invert the pan onto a plate, and leave it there for 5 mins before you remove the pan from the cake (this will allow all the caramel to dislodge itself properly from the pan). Serve it warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream. This cake kept really well, on my counter at room temperature, covered in plastic wrap, for a number of days. I would simply warm a slice for 5-10 secs in the microwave each time I served it.

Verdict: Bestest chocolate cake I ever made! Better than brownies. Better than crack - I'm sure of it. DH usually stays away from chocolate, but even he gave in to the siren call of this black beauty. I'd never paired chocolate with pears before, but combining them in this way - helped along by the magic of caramel - was out of this world. You may never want to go back to your regular pineapple upside-down cake after a slice of this baby. And DO try to get your hands on Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder, because I really think that is key in how amazing this turned out. I'll be making it again. My mom used to make a simple, straightforward chocolate cake for my kid brother and I when we were young whippersnappers, as a special treat once in a while. In those days, I didn't think any cake could top Mom's chocolate cake. So maybe I'll continue the tradition, by making this chocolate cake (which is so much more than just a chocolate cake - hello, caramel! pears! CARAMEL!) for my own little future munchkin(s).

Moist beyond belief, and it stays that way! The top is sticky from the caramel. And those pears just melt in your mouth.

I'm dedicating this cake to my best friend and her loving hubbs, who will be celebrating their 5-year wedding anniversary tomorrow. Love you both *blowing transatlantic kisses your way*! Happy anniversary, and may you have the best years still ahead of you!

And I haven't submitted anything to Sugar High Fridays in a while, but I think this cake fits in to their current monthly theme, which is Sweet Comforts. The round-up will be hosted by A Merrier World. I can't wait to see what other people put up there as their go-to recipes for when they want a dessert hug!


Mona said...

Looks SOOOOOOOO good! you made me drool! :-)

Faith said...

That is a really beautiful cake! Dark chocolate, pears, and caramel are truly a match made in heaven, aren't they? Love how moist the cake looks too!

Foodiewife said...

Me thinks your nesting instinct is in full gear! This looks wickedly good. I have never seen this one, and I think you did blow this one right out of the water!

Mari said...

You know when your baby is born and you try to feed it baby food he or she is going to spit out because you have been spoiling them with all this food ha

Anonymous said...

Mmmm... 5 stars for sure! I can't wait to try this incredible cake!

Amna said...

One word and one word only describes this..HEAVENLY!!!(angels singing in background!!!!!)

Ann said...

Wow - chocolate, caramel and pears? BOOKMARKED!
I'm partial to pears-in-cake, a pear cake is what started my foray into blogging and my blog name itself ;-)
LOL - we JUST had pineapple upside down (with the cherries) for New Years! It's coming back!!!!!

Donna-FFW said...

After that description.. I think your description was geared toward me;), I am so putting this on my must make list. Maybe for valentines day so we can play yknow a hostage thing.

Unknown said...

Beautifully done. I have never made an upside down cake. I was always afraid i wouldnt be able to turn it out. This looks fabulous.
*kisses* HH
p.s. i always lick the spatula :D

Kerstin said...

Sexy indeed, what a rich and decadent tart!

Duchess of Tea said...

The Duchess of Tea has bestowed a title upon you. Her Grace requests the honour of your presence at the knighting ceremony to be held at Rose Tea Cottage.

The Duchess will be honoured if you accept the award she is presenting you by copy and pasting it on your blog.

Jamie said...

Wowowowow! My husband's love of pears and my love of dense, moist, luscious chocolate cake all in one! Gorgeous, Muneeba! Delicious!

Erica said...

Wow! That looks like heaven to me :)So rich and delicious!

nandini said...

Looks so Divine Muneeba... It sure is a Show Stopper!..

Kate said...

I just have to make this cake - right now! Wow - it sounds absolutely scrummy.
Thanks for entering SHF :-)

Anonymous said...

I tried to make this. After about twenty minutes of boiling the sugar the water dried up and I was left with the granulated sugar I had started with. It never got darker than a very pale yellow.

On a second attempt I kept adding water as it was getting dry. After boiling for about 40 minutes it still wasn't getting darker. After almost an hour it was kind-of yellow so I poured it in. I ended up with chunks of sugar crystals on the top of my cake.

Any suggestions for the caramel would be much appreciated. I used regular white sugar.

Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

OOoh Muneeba,...drool,...drool,...drool!

Pure georgeness!!!

Julie said...

I love this cake, can't wait to try it! Glad you posted to SHF.