Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake

  • 2 14-oz cans pear halves in juice
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) soft butter plus more for greasing
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F and grease an 8 1/2-inch-square ovenproof dish with butter.
2. Drain the pears and arrange them in the base of the dish.
3. Put all the remaining ingredients in a processor and blitz till you have a batter with a soft dropping consistency.
4. Spread the brown batter over the pears, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
5. Let stand for 5 or 10 minutes and then cut into slabs — I cut 2 down and 2 across to make 9 slices — and serve with chocolate sauce.

Serves 6-8, January 21, 2009 · This is a cross between pears belle Helene and Eve's pudding, but that's an irrelevance really. The only important thing to remember is that this is easy, quick, and very comforting and seems to please absolutely everyone. It's not hard to make sure you always have what you need in the house to make this. And for hot days when baked cake and sauce seems inappropriate, then bear in mind that canned (or jarred) pears and chocolate sauce — with or without vanilla ice cream — make a lovely dessert on their own.

You can make the chocolate sauce on page 51, or buy one you like, obviously, but I have a complete pantry standby of a sauce I make by heating together ¾ cup evaporated milk, ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder, ½ cup dark corn syrup, and 3 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate.

The cake itself does make a little bit of its own sauce, so if you really don't want to make some separately, just serve with chocolate ice cream.

As with any baking, you really do want all ingredients at room temperature before you start.