Dark and gloomy days are always an incentive to start baking cakes. And with Christmas coming soon, I thought it would be nice to share a dessert recipe. I combined three flavours that are quintessentially winter essentials: chocolate, figs, and poached pears. There are so many good recipes for poached pears, e.g orange-spiced poached pears, or pears poached in cranberries. The best thing is that you can combine them with just about anything. Chocolate cake is also a winner, because who doesn’t like chocolate cake? If you have little time on your hands, I have a shortcut for you because you can also bake a chocolate cake from a box mix, and then add the homemade poached pears. It saves you time and still has that festive flair you are going for. (scroll down for the recipe)
How to make the poached pears
- 4-5 pears for poaching, peeled but kept whole with stalk intact
- a bottle of red wine ( I used Chianti)
- 1 vanilla pod
- 225g caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamon seeds
Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the black seeds and put in a large saucepan with the wine, sugar, cinnamon and thyme, cloves and cardamon. Cut each piece of pod into three long thin strips, add to pan, then lower in the pears.
Poach the pears, covered, for 60 mins, making sure they are covered in the wine. The cooking time will very much depend on the ripeness of your pears – they should be tender all the way through when pierced with a cocktail stick. I like to to let them simmer for a long time to infuse the flavours better. You can make these up to 2 days ahead and chill.
When they’ve chilled, cut the pears in slices and take out the seeds.
How to make the chocolate cake with figs jam
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup cold water
- a pot of bio figs jam
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and coarse salt.
Make a well in center of flour mixture and add vegetable oil, pure vanilla extract, and cold water. Whisk until well combined. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the mould on a wire rack.
- With a knife, cover the top of the cake with a thick layer of figs jam
- Then arrange the pear slices on top in circles.