Those last autumn leaves;
Lain to rest;
beds maroon fruit.
Late-afternoon light catches
worn marks on my fork,
winter solstice nears.
Sunken Pear Chocolate Cake
time one day ahead: 15 minutes to poach pears / 20 minutes cake prep / 45 minutes baking time
yields one 25cm / 10-inch cake
500ml red wine
1 Tbsp. crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1/2 vanilla bean
100g semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. himalayan salt
100g toasted, ground almonds
A day before the bake:
peel pears, remove their cores and cut them into halves.
Heat wine, water and spices with the pears.
Boil for a couple minutes, then take off the heat, cover and let stand overnight.
Preheat the oven to 175°C/ 350°F.
Distribute almond meal on a baking tray and roast for 3-4 minutes until golden-brown.
Set aside to cool.
In the meantime, butter a 25cm / 10-inch cake tin or cast-iron pan.
Also, drain the pears from the poaching liquid.
Melt chocolate and butter together, stir in brandy and leave to cool.
Whisk the egg yolks of three eggs with half the amount of sugar, cardamom, salt and last egg until pale and thick, then fold into the chocolate along with the almonds.
In a separate bowl, with a clean whisk, beat the whites with the second half of sugar until they reach a soft peak (try not to whisk them too stiffly or you’ll have trouble folding them in).
Stir a spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mix, then carefully fold in the rest of them in 2 additions.
Spoon into the prepared tin or pan.
Arrange the pears over the mixture.
Bake for around 45 minutes until the cake is cooked all the way through (toothpick test!).