I found a recipe on Epicurious for Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake. I decided to whip this up on Friday evening before heading out for drinks with friends. The weekend is usually when I have friends over for a quick cup of tea or a game of Scrabble. And if nobody ends up coming over, well, then you've got a snack for the weekend without having to go to Dairy Queen.
And whipping something up like this, like it's no big deal, makes you seem like quite the catch. You do have to be careful to have the chocolate wiped off your face and that there's no sugar crystals from the caramel dried in your hair. It's not attractive. I learned this lesson the hard way.
I had three pears at varying degrees of ripeness, so I decided to use them all and see how the textures compared. The recipe called for ripe but firm pears. My preference was actually for the very ripe pear. It was easier to eat with a fork and the texture of the pear and cake went well together. The size of the pear slices varied as well. It made for a less "perfect" look. I ended up fitting them in the pan where they would fit in a very anti-Martha way.
The making and baking of the cake went quite well. I don't yet have a stand mixer, so I had to use a hand mixer. Mine is on its way out and only works on the high setting. This only became problematic when I had to mix the cocoa powder in. This resulted in a large plume of cocoa powder rising in the air as the mixer attempted to mix the flour mixture with the sugar and chocolate. This is when things got messy and I ended up with chocolate on my face.
The baked cake came out looking perfect. It almost seemed a shame to turn it upside down.
Now this was the tricky part...and where I approached near cake disaster. I thought I had read to leave the cake upside down with the pan on top to cool for five minutes. After rereading the recipe I realized the cake should be sitting on the pan. I thought "oh I'll just flip it back over". It was midway through this flip that I realized this was a bad idea. The whole cake came flopping out on to the cooling rake. Amazingly it stayed in tact with only a few side pieces falling off.
I then managed to just slide the whole cake on to a plate. I'm yet to acquire a cake stand. In my mind, I'm waiting for the most beautiful, most perfect cake stand I can find. And also the funds to buy it.
I must say the cake is quite delicious. Perfect with a glass of milk. It is fairly sweet and I wonder if the caramel is required. Or maybe just half of the caramel? I will remember this for next time. I will make it again, and this time not nearly the dump the cake upside-down, or rather, right side-up.