Chocolate Pear Cake

Pears and chocolate may be an unfamiliar pairing, but it is one worth exploring. The delicate sweetness of the pear balances the richness of the chocolate, creating one of my favorite combinations. While pears and chocolate are no stranger to this blog (check out these recipes for pear & chocolate scones and brown butter pear & chocolate muffins), it has been awhile since I've played around with these flavors.

For this cake, I mixed ripe pears into the cake and layered them on the top for both aesthetics and for my personal preference (I will openly fight for the pieces with the most pear). The chocolate cake itself is light and moist. To bring out a deeper chocolate flavor, I also tossed chopped chocolate into the batter.

This cake lasted only a brief time in my house, and I hope you'll find the same is true for you.

With this recipe (and many that involve pears), canned pears can be substituted for their fresh counterparts as a quick and easy alternative. If you don't have ripe pears on hand, dice the canned pears and fold them into the cake batter instead of layering on top—the flavors will taste the same. 


Chocolate Pear Cake is a sweet snacking cake. Diced pears and chopped chocolate are folded into a chocolate cake batter. Before baking, the top is covered with pear slices and sprinkled with more chopped chocolate and raw sugar to add additional sweetness and texture. Serve the cake warm or chilled with a scoop of ice cream or a dreamy spoonful of whipped cream.

Two Years Ago: Quick Puff Pastry (Tutorial) 
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Orange Cake
Four Years Ago: Almond Cake 
Five Years Ago:  Blueberry Lemon Pancakes, Lavender Lemon Shortbread, & Grapefruit Margaritas
Six Years Ago: Basic Caramel Sauce, Rum  Raisin Ice Cream, Butternut Squash & Spinach Tart, & Rosemary Crackers
Seven Years Ago: Lemon Chocolate Tart, Coconut Cream Cupcakes, Italian Popcorn, & PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Pear Cake

Yields 9-inch cake

2 large ripe pears*
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (78 ml) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk of choice
4 ounces (113 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon raw or demerara sugar, optional
Chocolate shavings, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch spring-form cake pan. Set aside.

To prepare the pears, peel them, if desired. Cut in half and remove the core. Dice one pear into small cubes. Quarter the other pear lengthwise and thinly slice. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs for several minutes, or until lighter in color. Whisk in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract. Using a spatula, stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and milk. Mix until the batter is smooth and uniform. Fold in the cubed pear and chopped chocolate.

Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Top batter with folded pear quarters and chocolate shavings. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Run a knife around the edges and remove outer springform. Allow to cool before serving.

* Canned pears can be substituted in a pinch. Dice all the pears and fold them into the batter instead of layering over the top.

Pear Ginger Thyme Crumble


During late fall and winter, pears are in season. The delicate sweetness and buttery flesh of a ripe pear makes this fruit one of the fruits I look forward to most throughout the year. Since it is a struggle for me to catch pears at their peak ripeness—they are either unripe and too hard or overripe and too soft—I choose to eliminate the unpredictability by poaching the pears on the stove or roasting them in the oven. When cooked through, pears still retain all the qualities I adore in their fresh counterparts. 

While summer calls for cool and refreshing pear sorbets, winter calls for a warmer approach. This crumble unites tender pear with the warm spices of cinnamon and ginger. An aromatic hint of fresh thyme blended into the oatmeal crumble lends an unexpected, but welcome brightness. To complete the dish, a couple spoonfuls of brandy are stirred into the pear filling. The combined juices stew down at the bottom of the pan while the topping browns.

The complex flavor profile of the crumble takes familiar flavors and combines them in such a way that they feel like a new (and delicious) experience. 


This Pear Ginger Thyme Crumble is a fruit-based dessert that takes advantage of winter fruit and spices. Pears, stewed down in their juices with vanilla and brandy, are topped with a crisp crumble topping. The oatmeal topping is sweetened with brown sugar and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and fresh thyme. Serve the crumble hot or cold with a scoop of ice cream or spoonful of whipped cream.

Two Years Ago: Bruleed Lemon Tart & Chocolate Almond Cake (GF)
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Raspberry Tarts
FourYears Ago: Honey Oat Bread, Banana Cacao Buckwheat Muffins, & Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Five Years Ago:  Bruleed Grapefruit, Bacon & Chive Beer Bread, Pomegranate Panna Cotta, & Toasted Almond Cookies
Six Years Ago: Cheddar Dill Biscuits, S'mores Brownies, Beer Bread, Roasted Pepper Feta Scones, & Chocolate Rum Cake (GF)
Seven Years Ago: Yellow Cake, Vanilla Rum French Toast, Banana Bread Oatmeal, & Chocolate Blueberry Ice Cream

Pear Ginger Thyme Crumble

Yields 6-8 servings

Pear Filling 
5-6 large (about 3 pounds/1.4 kilograms) Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon brandy, optional

Ginger Thyme Crumble
1/4 cup (57 grams) coconut oil, liquid state
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (60 grams) old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

For the pear filling, coat the peeled and diced pears with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, and brandy, stirring until uniform. Spread evenly into a cast iron pan or a greased 9-inch pie pan. 

For the crumble, stir together the coconut oil and brown sugar, mixing until it forms a uniform paste. Stir in the flour, oats, spices, and salt until uniform. Break the crumble topping into small pieces and sprinkle crumble topping over the top of the pears.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the pears are bubbling and the crumble topping is browned. If the topping browns before the pears have finished cooking, cover the pan with aluminum foil to prevent further browning and continue cooking.

Serve warm or cold, with a side of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Poached Pear Gingerbread Loaf

The holiday season has arrived, with lights glowing and bells jingling. I spent the week of Thanksgiving visiting family, enjoying the food, and spending time in each other's company. It felt wonderful to get away from the everyday for awhile, to refresh and unwind in a familiar presence. Now that I am back home, I am finding it difficult to fall back into the daily routine (and even harder to wake up to the morning alarm). However, the excitement of the holiday season is in the air—on television, in stores, and on the faces of my students—which keeps the energy high. 

I haven't caught the holiday spirit yet, but I imagine spending more time in the kitchen baking up holiday classics will make the spirit easier to find.

The holiday season is one of my favorites for baking. While there will always be the traditional foods (like Grandma's Honey Cookies), I like to use the holidays as an excuse to try new ideas. When Wolf Gourmet asked me to test their countertop oven, it felt like permission to play in the kitchen. I currently live in a small, one bedroom apartment, where space comes at a premium. I initially thought I would store the countertop oven in the closet when it wasn't in use, but I use it so often now that it found a permanent place in my kitchen.

This countertop oven is great for baking, but I use it just as often to heat up a quick dinner. It takes much less time to heat up (and is much more energy efficient than my current standard conduction oven). The countertop oven also has a "Proof" setting, which is a low-temperature setting that helps yeast dough rise faster than it would at room temperature. I have tried to mimic this setting in my standard oven without success, so my yeast doughs—whether pizza or bread—find their way in the countertop oven too. 

My favorite oven setting by far is convection. The convection setting circulates the air in the oven, which provides more uniform heating and reduces baking time up to twenty-five percent over a standard conduction oven. When I first made this Poached Pear Gingerbread Loaf, the loaf cake baked in 40 minutes instead of the usual 55 minutes. The convection setting also allows the food to bake more evenly, which means that my loaf cake was tender all the way through (my standard conduction oven tends to overbake the outside before the inside is done).

The countertop oven is relatively small (after all, it does fit on the countertop), which limits what you can fit inside. It will not fit half sheet pans or a few of my unusually shaped pans, but it will fit a standard 9 x 13-inch pan, which accomodates most dishes or desserts you will bake. The standard kitchen oven is not replaced, but the countertop oven can complement your current oven, especially during the holiday season when having more than one oven for baking or entertaining is ideal.

Edit: Giveaway closed.

Poached Pear Gingerbread Loaf is a cake with sophisticated flavors. Pears are poached in spices and white wine, rendering them soft and sweet. The poached pears are placed in a loaf pan and surrounded with gingerbread cake batter. The gingerbread is made with fresh ginger, which lends a bold, spiced profile to the cake. The pears bake up beautifully in the loaf cake, adding a soft contrast to the strong flavors of the cake. Drizzle each slice with white wine syrup before serving.

Two Years Ago: Almond Espresso Cookies
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Streusel Muffins & Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Four Years Ago: Gingerbread Muffins, Persimmon Cake, Lemon Cranberry Scones, & Chocolate Pomegranate Tart
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Granola Bars, Banana Cocoa SmoothiePumpkin Panna Cotta, & Honey Cookies
Six Years Ago: Sugar-Coated Daydreams, Blueberry Brownies, & Pear Chips

Poached Pear Gingerbread Cake

Yields 1 loaf

Poached Pears
3 Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled with stems left on
1 bottle (750 mL) white wine
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) water
1 vanilla bean, cut in half and seeds scraped
Peel from 1/2 an orange
3 cinnamon sticks

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces the pears. Remove pears and set aside.

Run remaining liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove solids and continue to simmer the liquid until it thickens into a syrup that can coat the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes.

Gingerbread Loaf Cake
1/2 cup (120 mL) dark molasses
2/3 cup (140 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (170 mL) milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a 10 x 4-inch loaf pan with parchment (it helps to transfer the loaf after baking), grease lightly, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the molasses, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Alternately, fold in the flour and stir in the milk until uniform. 

Place poached pears in prepared pan and spoon gingerbread batter around the pears. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before using parchment to transfer loaf to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To serve, dust loaf with powdered sugar and drizzle each slice with poached pear syrup.

Disclosure: A complimentary countertop oven was provided for review by Wolf Gourmet. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.