Typically I mess with recipes. I research recipes, change them, tweak them, completely obliterate them until no longer recognizable or come up with something new. I am a messer. But this recipe needed no messing. It is practically near perfect.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery. And the flattery goes to Al Di La, an Italian trattoria in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. This was my old stompin’ ground as I lived two subway stops away in Kensington. But the credit also goes to Deb over at smittenkitchen for prying this recipe out of the pastry chef at Al Di La, and giving it to the world. She writes one of my favorite food blogs, so here’s to giving credit where credit is due.
I’m sure the suspense is killing you, eh?
I first made the Pear Chocolate Brown Butter cake back in January after reading Deb’s post. (Yeah, so I have a thing for brown butter if you haven’t noticed.) I was still living in Amsterdam and working as a pastry cook in the fantastic Italian cafe Toscanini. If you live in Amsterdam, go to Toscanini now.
Of course I wanted to make this cake before I even finished reading the post, but I had no mixer…or an oven. Hello Toscanini and it’s kitchen stocked with enough kitchen appliances to conquer Paris. As soon as it was cool enough to not melt my mouth, I had a taste. And my god, it was like having cake for the first time. And the last time. It was “what would you like for your last meal” in prison kinda good. My only addition? Amaretto whipped cream.
Alright, enough stalling. Go make this now.
Pear Chocolate Brown Butter Cake Recipe
(inspired by smittenkitchen and Al Di La)
1 c (170g) all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (120g) unsalted butter
3/4 c (185g) sugar
2 medium pears, diced
3/4 c (130g) bittersweet chocolate chips (I used 60%, divine!)
Brown butter on medium-high heat. Stir butter so it melts and browns evenly. Butter will boil and foam. Once the milk solids sink and turn into brown (not black) bits, transfer to a bowl to stop cooking and cool. (For step-by-step photos on making brown butter, check out Brown Butter 101.)
Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Start whipping eggs and sugar on medium speed. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. No sifter like me? Just use a whisk to combine. It will aerate the dry ingredients and break up any clumps. Lightly grease a 9″ spring form pan with butter. I like to put parchment paper on the bottom of the pan for extra ‘release easily from the pan’ insurance, plus it makes sliding it onto a serving platter a lot less stressful.
Once the egg mixture has thickened and become a pale eggshell color, increase speed to high and beat until very thick, approx 2m. Turn off mixer and add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix on low until barely combined. Add 1/2 of the browned butter. And again, mix until barely combined. Repeat with flour, then butter, then the last of the flour. After last addition, mix for 1m. Remove bowl from mixer and fold the batter to finish incorporating flour and butter mixes. (This just helps prevent over mixing which will make the cake tough.) Tough Cake = No Good
Add batter to spring form pan. Sprinkle pear and chocolate evenly over batter. Bake in preheated oven for 35m and check for doneness. If cake does not spring back to touch, bake an additional 5m. I used an 8 1/2″ pan, so the cake was a bit thicker and it took exactly 43m to bake, in case you were wondering.
Amaretto Whipped Cream Recipe
1 c (250ml) heavy cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tsp Disaronno (or other Amaretto liquer)
Whip cream until consistency of soft yogurt. Add powdered sugar and Amaretto and whip until it reaches soft peaks.