This syrup-soaked chocolate and pear cake looks fantastic when turned out to reveal the beautiful sliced pears. What a treat!
- 60g (2oz) caster sugar
- 1tbsp lemon juice
- Dash of vanilla extract
- 4 ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored
- 150g (5oz) plain chocolate
- 4 tbsp milk
- 90g (3oz) butter, softened
- 90g (3oz) light muscovado sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- 90g (3oz) self-raising flour
- 30g (1oz) ground almonds (or equivalent in flour)
- Icing sugar, for dredging
- 20cm (8in) loose-based sandwich tin, greased and base lined
Put the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and 600ml (1 pint) cold water in a large, shallow pan and bring to the boil gradually, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until just tender. Spoon pears out on to a plate and leave to cool. Keep the syrup in the pan.
Use a swivel-headed potato peeler to grate some chocolate for decorating the cake – about 30g (1oz). Set aside on a plate and cover. Put the rest of the chocolate in a small bowl with the milk and melt over a pan of gently simmering water (or in the microwave) until smooth.
Arrange the drained pear halves, cut-side down, in the bottom of the tin.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a couple of tbsp of flour as well.
Stir in the melted chocolate, then the rest of the flour. Add the almonds or more flour. Fold in gently. Spoon the mixture over the pears, smoothing the top. Bake in a moderate, 190°C (375°F, gas mark 5) for about 40 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, reduce the poaching liquid to about 100ml (3½ fl oz) syrup. Before taking pudding out of the tin, make holes in it with a skewer and spoon over syrup, letting it soak in completely.
Turn out pudding. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate. Dust with sifted icing sugar, if you like. Serve warm or cold, with cream.
Top tip for making Upside-down chocolate and pear cake
This pudding isn't suitable for freezing - so you'll have to make sure you eat it asap. What a shame!