This is one of my favorite holiday desserts. With the spices and the candied ginger it has a distinct holiday flavor but thanks to the pears it is not too rich after an opulent meal.
In the rare years when the groundhogs don't decide to eat all the pears from our two pear trees, I make this cake with pears I have canned myself. Otherwise I gently poach peeled firm pear halves in light syrup (2 parts water, 1 part sugar) with some strips of organic lemon peel until they can be pierced with a sharp knife.
The opinions in my family are divided whether this cake should be served with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream. I personally like it plain, too. —Nadia Hassani
What You'll Need
stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
packed (10 ounces) light brown sugar
pear nectar from the canned pears, or poaching liquid from the pears
finely minced crystallized ginger
finely grated bittersweet chocolate (80% if possible)
canned or poached pear chunks, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a 9-inch-diameter springform pan.
Mix flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and all the spices.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla extract and pear nectar.
Gradually add the flour mix until well combined. Add ginger and chocolate. Fold in the pear chunks.
Pour mix into the prepared pan and even out with a spatula. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, until toothpick comes out somewhat clean (because of the pears, there will always be some moisture clinging to the tester, but it should not be liquid).
Cool cake 10 minutes. Release cake from pan sides with a plastic knife. Cool completely on rack.