Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque

September 8th, 2010 / Comments 8

Last week, our friend Richard called to say that it was time to pick pears. As I drove to his house, I remembered the first time I had seen pears on that tree.

pear basket c egbert Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque

It was nearly fourteen years ago, just after we had moved from Washington DC, leaving behind townhouses, taxicabs, and sirens, to come to live in rural in Vermont with farmhouses, tractors, cows and of course pear trees.

For the most part, adjusting to the changes was easy. I loved seeing mist rising on the river, wildflowers at the roadside and blue skies with white fluffy clouds. I wasn’t so comfortable when a snake appeared when I was mowing the grass or when a troop of turkeys wandered by. Luckily, those creatures were as timid as I was. Cows were another matter. I liked seeing them in the pastures, I marveled at their beauty but I needed to have a fence between me and them – until the first time I saw Richard’s pear tree. As I drove along the road near his house, I had to stop for a herd of cows. The cows were not in the meadow, they were in the middle of the road, and in no time at all, I was in the middle of the cows.

cow c egbert1 Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque

What to do? I sat in my car, with the windows closed and, after a minute or two, all of the cows, except for one lovely Jersey, walked slowly up the road, away from me and toward the barn. The remaining cow turned, looked back at me, batted her glorious eyelashes and headed for the pear tree growing in the center of the garden in front of a large house. She downed at least a dozen pears and then her herding instinct overwhelmed her desire for pears and she hustled off. I followed the cows at a safe distance, until the wanderers reunited with the rest of the herd at the top of the road. When I was certain that the cows had no interest in me, I knocked on the front door of the house and told the woman who opened the door that her cows were on the loose. She shrugged her shoulders, and said, “They’re not my cows but they like to stop by. I’ll call the farmer.”

A couple of years later, that woman, Nancy, and her husband Richard became our friends. I shared my story about the cow and the pear tree at our first meeting. Nancy explained that even though the cows still stopped by I was welcome to share the bounty of the pear tree with them. Each August, as summer winds down, when Richard calls about the pears, I think about Nancy who died four years ago.

mosque CF Egbert Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque

On Saturday we had a picnic with friends and other sculptors at the opening of Sculpturefest in Woodstock. Charles’ sculpture of a mosque made its Vermont debut and I wanted to mark the day with a celebratory cake. The pears from Richard’s tree and a chunk of bittersweet Callebaut chocolate from the Coop inspired me to make a chocolate studded, pear cake. Here’s how I did it:

Chocolate Studded Pear Cake

I cut two Bosc pears into small dice, chopped four and a half ounces of bittersweet Callebaut chocolate into small chunks, preheated the oven to 350º and buttered a nine-inch spring form pan and dusted it with flour.

I used a wire whisk to combine one cup of flour with one tablespoon of baking powder and a quarter of a teaspoon of kosher salt and set it aside.

To give the cake a rich, buttery flavor, I browned four ounces, one stick, of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan by cooking it over medium heat for about seven minutes. I stirred the butter occasionally and turned off the heat when the milk solids in the butter had become lightly browned and the butter had a nutty scent.

I used my stand mixer with the whisk beater to whip three eggs, at high speed. After about ten minutes, the eggs were pale yellow and very thick. I added three quarters of a cup of granulated sugar and continued beating for another minute. I used a spatula to quickly and gently fold in a third of the flour mixture, half of the browned butter, another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the butter and finally the remaining flour mixture.

I poured the batter into the buttered and floured pan and dotted it with the pear and chocolate pieces. After the cake had baked for fifty minutes, a toothpick poked into the center came out clean and the cake had begun to pull away from the side of the pan. I served it topped with heavy cream that I had whipped to soft peaks and transported to our picnic in a cooler.

The hand-cut shards of bittersweet Callebaut added a wonderful richness to this cake, but you can substitute three quarters of a cup of semi sweet chocolate chips if you like. Sculpturefest continues through foliage season and you are welcome to visit with or without a picnic. More information, including driving directions, is available on their web site

Download and print cake recipe with an ingredients list here.

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• 8 Responses to “Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque”

  • jodi says:

    Carol, your story reminds of a run-in I once had with a cow in the Mad River Valley. I really enjoy your blog!

  • annie houston says:

    i can’t wait to make this cake, especially as pears and chocolate are among my favorite foods…i loved the story of the cows encounter, especially the encounter with the jersey…the have the sweetest of natures, rather like your golden

  • annie houston says:

    i can’t wait to try this recipe, pears and chocolate being two of a list of favorite foods…i also loved the story of the cows, and the encounter with the jersey…they do have the sweetest nature, rather like your golden…

  • KarenD says:

    My husband just walked by with a glass of milk and piece of Chocolate Pear Cake and said, “This won’t last long”.

    Two of my favorite flavors in a cake…pears from my little tree out back and semi-sweet morsels! Thank you for this recipe…

  • This is such a beautiful post, and I love this story…And a lovely tribute to your friend Nancy. Your paintings are glorious, as usual and the sculpture is fabulous. Now on to this cake, oh my I would love to try this (I don’t mean make it myself, not my strong point, but eat it). Wonderful!

  • A wonderful story and the cake sounds amazing with chocolate and pear combination!

  • Drick says:

    growing up with cows, your story brings back memories of our lead cow, the one which wore the cowbell, and her gentle nudging for affection. Her name was Clarabell, momma named all of the cows… at first. Very nice comforting cake. Like the chocolate contrast…

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