|Italian Nut Pear Cake (not overly sweet!)|
For the Cake You'll Need: 1/2 cup whole almonds (shelled and unblanched), 1/4 cup pine nuts (untoasted), 1/4 cup whole walnuts (shelled and unblanched), 2 oz unsalted butter (1/4 cup at room temperature) plus additional butter for cake pan, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup all purpose flour plus additional flour for cake pan, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, 2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil, 2 Extra large organic eggs (at room temperature), 1/3 cup whole organic milk, 2 oz dark chocolate (shredded or shaved), 2 large Asian pears (cleaned, cored, not peeled)
For the Glaze You'll Need: 3 Tbsp pear or apple jelly**, 1 Tbsp pear brandy or calvados (apple brandy)*, powdered sugar for garnish
How to Prepare: Butter and flour a spring form pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the nuts in a food processor. Pulse until you have small crumbs. Set aside. In a mixer (with paddle attachment), cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, eggs (one at a time) and oil until you have a nice, smooth mixture. In a separate large preparation bowl sift together the flour and baking powder. In batches, add the milk and flour mixture to the mixer (alternating a little bit of milk and then a little bit of flour mixture). Turn off the mixer occasionally, and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as you go. All should be smooth and well incorporated. Fold in the chocolate. Pour the batter into the prepared spring form pan. Quarter the pears (length wise). Gently place the pears evenly in the batter. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cake pan on the baking sheet and place in oven for 45-60 minutes. You should have light browning on the edges. Insert a toothpick in the cake. If it comes out clean it's done. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes (in spring form pan). Release the spring mechanism on pan and transfer cake to a cake plate. In a small sauce pan combine the jelly and brandy. Stir until all the lumps are gone and it's smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the sauce on top of the cake. Using a small sifter, sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the cake, if desired. Enjoy!
* Note, if you do not have either of these specialty brandy selections, you can use plain old rum.
** Note, you can use jam instead of jelly (if you don't have jelly) but then I recommend that you strain the glaze mixture through a sieve or strainer, to eliminate any clumpy fruit chunks, before you brush it onto the cake. Jelly has a smoother texture (no clumps) so the straining can be avoided.
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