Chocolate Pear Cake

Loaded with winter fruit, sprinkled with spices, and drizzled with salted caramel, our chocolate pear cake is bursting with flavor. Poached pears and spicy Mexican chocolate add complexity; your taste buds will be treated to a forward-facing sweetness, savory undertones, and a surprising kick to finish. Guests will rave about your dessert from the moment you cut the cake until every last crumb disappears from their plates.

What Is Mexican Chocolate?

Mexican Chocolate on a White Table

Mexican chocolate is a unique and flavorful type of chocolate known for its coarse texture and complex flavor profile. It is typically made by grinding roasted cacao beans with sugar and spices, such as cinnamon and sometimes nutmeg. This creates a grainy texture that adds a delightful crunch to every bite. Spicy Mexican chocolate, also known as chocolate Picante in Spanish, is a popular variation of Mexican chocolate that takes the flavor experience to a whole new level by adding chili powder or cayenne pepper. Chocolate picante offers a delightful balance between sweet and spicy, making it the forerunner of the swicy trend we see booming today. We use spicy Mexican chocolate in our recipe.

What Are Poached Pears?

Poached Pears

A poached pear is a pear that has been gently cooked in a simmering liquid, infusing it with subtle flavors and enhancing its natural sweetness. Red or white wine adds a sophisticated depth to the fruit, while brandy and other digestifs introduce a rich and aromatic element. Chefs looking to add an extra touch of indulgence include hints of sugar and spices like different types of cinnamon. Poached pears can be enjoyed as standalone treats, served simply with a drizzle of poaching syrup. However, they also lend themselves to a wide range of sweet and savory recipes, like our white wine-poached pear chocolate cake.

Chocolate Pear Cake Recipe

Mexican Chocolate Pear Cake with Salted Caramel

This chocolate pear cake recipe combines luscious poached pears, spicy chocolate, and decadent salted caramel for a rich and complex dessert. While our recipe includes buttermilk and heavy whipping cream, you can check out our guide to dairy-free baking to find suitable substitutes and swap out the cow's butter for vegan butter to make this chocolate pear cake dairy free. For a vegan-friendly version, you can try substituting the eggs for aquafaba. Since this recipe combines three parts, we provide separate sets of ingredients and instructions for the Mexican chocolate cake, poached pears, and salted caramel. Then, we explain how to combine and plate these elements for serving.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Total Time: 2 to 3 hours

Mexican Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter plus additional butter for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder plus additional cocoa powder for dusting pan
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Mexican chocolate with chiles, like Taza chocolate

Mexican Chocolate Cake Directions

  1. Butter 9-inch springform pan and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
  2. Butter and dust parchment with cocoa powder.
  3. Place rack in oven center and heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Place large sheet pan lined with parchment on lower rack to catch drippings.
  5. Sift or whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.
  6. Using paddle attachment on stand mixer with medium bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, vanilla, and nutmeg. Beat on low to combine.
  7. Add oil and beat on medium-low speed until thoroughly combined (about 1 minute).
  8. Working alternately, add 1/3 flour mixture and 1/3 buttermilk until both are fully incorporated. Scrape sides and bottom as necessary.
  9. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
  10. Mix in chocolate pieces.
  11. Pour batter into springform pan and smooth top with small, offset spatula or spoon back.
  12. Bake cake for 30 minutes on center rack, then rotate and continue baking until toothpick comes out clean (about 50 minutes to one hour).

Poached Pears Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 to 1 pound Seckel or small red Anjou pears, halved, cored, cut into quarters, then sliced into fans

Poached Pears Directions

  1. While cake bakes, combine water, wine, lemon juice, and sugar in large skillet and bring to boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add pears. Poach until just tender (about 20 to 35 minutes).
  3. Remove pears from poaching liquid and transfer it to sheet pan lined with parchment. Set aside.

Caramel Sauce Ingredients

Caramel Sauce
  • 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup whipping or heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt for finishing (can substitute kosher salt)

Caramel Sauce Directions

  1. In medium saucepan, combine unsalted butter, dark brown sugar, and cream.
  2. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and reduce to simmer.
  3. Cook sauce, stirring occasionally, until glossy and thick (about six to eight minutes).
  4. Allow to cool for at least one hour. Caramel thickens as it cools. Make it ahead and keep it at room temperature or refrigerate it for up to one week. Then, gently reheat before serving.

Plating Directions

  1. When cake finishes baking, transfer to cooling rack and allow it to cool for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove side of springform pan and gently peel off parchment.
  3. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan bottom and parchment.
  4. Invert cake onto serving plate and arrange poached pears on top.
  5. Drizzle with caramel and sprinkle flaky sea salt on top.
  6. Serve with remaining caramel sauce on the side for guests to add as desired.
Chocolate pear cake drizzled in salted caramel
Posted in: Recipes|By Janine Jones
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