Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bittersweet Chocolate Pear Cake and Buttermilk Ice Cream

I have had the recipe for this cake for probably a year or so. I have been waiting for the right occasion to make it. Since pears are in season and I picked up about a bushel of them a few weeks ago I knew now was the time. I couldn't wait to try it.

I found the recipe from Smitten Kitchen when I was looking for a cake to make for my baby's first birthday. The recipe is from a popular little Italian restaurant in New York, Al Di la, is typically served with buttermilk ice cream.

The cake was yummy, browned butter kind of yummy. The process was different that I was used to, because you beat the eggs for so long, and it didn't seem like very much batter, but I guess all that beating makes it light and fluffy. The batter ended up really thick and browned buttery tasting; finger-licking good. I think bittersweet is the perfect chocolate for this cake, it compliments it well.

Al Di La’s Torta di Pere
Courtesy of Al Di La Restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour; set aside. (I only had a 10-inch so it was a little flatter, but worked just as well).

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)

While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) and cook it until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.

Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.

Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to loose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes or a tester comes out clean.

As for the ice cream, dee-lish as well! I'm not a fan of vanilla ice cream. I never make it and I never buy it. It just doesn't do anything for me and I wouldn't want to waste my calories on it; but that's just me. This buttermilk ice cream was a little sweet with a little tang and lots of creamy. I'd be willing to eat this solo, but it goes great along side this torte or any other, for that matter.

Buttermilk Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of salt

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream, buttermilk and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount into the yolks, slowly, and whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.

Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in the vanilla, and salt. Cool completely and freeze according manufacturer’s directions.

SOURCE:Smitten Kitchen

1 comment:

  1. I am so impressed you make your own ice cream. I've never attempted it (and I feel like I'm probably missing some vital tools). Buttermilk ice cream sounds delicious. Thanks for stopping by my blog, by the way.


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