As avid readers of the blog will know, in December we made a fabulous Dorie Greenspan French pear tart with almond cream. It was so good that we quickly dubbed it one of the best things we've ever made, and I stand by that assessment. What could be better than pears and almonds? How about pears, almonds...and chocolate?
I found a UK measurements-friendly recipe at a blog called Tasty Diaries, and though the author calls it a fondant it bears no relation to that nasty crap people use to decorate wedding cakes. The chocolate feels like it's melting in your mouth and the flavors blend beautifully with each other. I had to crush the almonds by hand and they weren't very well ground but I actually liked it that way, since it made the texture more interesting. Just a warning: do NOT overbake this. It says in the recipe that the crust will be ultra-thin - it MEANS ultra-thin, in fact, hardly there at all! I ended up leaving it in too long and it got a little burnt on the bottom and around the edges. This was problematic, though not as problematic as when my friend Pam accidentally knocked it off the table and it landed face-down on the floor. Luckily, we're not that discriminating, and she, our friend Nikhita and I picked it up quickly and ate the entire thing in half an hour. Yummmm.
Oh and P.S. The best thing about this cake? It has no flour so it's kosher for Passover, and it doesn't even taste like it's kosher for Passover!
To-die-for 15 min chocolate, almond and pear fondant
200 g 70% cocoa good quality dark chocolate
150 g lightly salted butter
4 eggs (4 whites, 1 yolk)
80 g ground almonds
100 g sugar
3 ripe pears
This recipe works perfectly with my square 25 x 25 cm loose base non-stick cake pan. If you don’t have a loose base dish, use a silicone one instead for easier demoulding, or cover the bottom of your dish with a piece of greaseproof paper cut to size. Blogger's note: I used a round tin, worked very well.
Preheat the oven to 175 degree C
Cut the chocolate and butter into chunks and melt together in the microwave in a medium size mixing bowl. With my 850kW microwave, it takes 90 sec. Start with a 1 min session, mix well, and do another 30s. After that stir any unmelted chocolate chunks into the melted mixture, using the residual heat to finish the job. If you don’t have a microwave, place the chocolate and butter into a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and stir regularly. Take out of the heat as soon as the ingredients have melted.
In a second bowl, lightly beat the egg whites and sugar with a fork until the mixture looks homogenous, for about 20 sec. Do not use an electric mixer for this, you don’t want the whites to bubble more than with a quick beating. This cake is not supposed to rise or be fluffy.
Add the almonds to the chocolate mixture and stir well. Dip your finger into the mixture, it should be just warm, i.e. you should not have any sensation of heat. If you do, wait a bit before adding the egg yolk otherwise it may curd. Add the egg yolk and stir energetically.
Pour the egg white mixture into the chocolate one and stir until reaching a homogenous batter.
Butter your cake dish and pour the batter into it.
Peel, quarter and core the pears, and cut into segments about 3 mm thick. Press the segments into the batter following a pretty pattern (concentric circles for a round mould, or neat, parallel lines for a square one) and leaving the tops of the segments visible. Make sure you place them very close to each other - leaving about 1 cm between each slice. You may not use up all the pears, I tend to fill my dish with 2 1/2 pears.
Bake for 35 minutes. Don’t worry if the cake feels a bit soft and creamy under its ultra thin crust, it will set when cooling down. Wait until the cake is nearly cold for demoulding it unless you have a loose base dish.Eat the fondant warm or cold. The slices will be easier to cut once it is cold, but I usually can’t wait, even if it is much messier!