Italian desserts: Pear and chocolate cake (torta di pera e cioccolato)

A rich, elegant dessert inspired by one from a favourite Florentine pastry shop. Sometimes you can find this cake encased in a shortcrust pastry too, but I love it on its own, particularly when it has a dense melt-in-the-mouth texture like this one.

pear chocolate cake
Lauren Bamford

SERVES 8

50g granulated sugar
2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into eighths lengthways
150g dark chocolate
90g unsalted butter, cubed
90g caster sugar
90g ground almonds
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
icing sugar, for dusting

  1. Combine the sugar with 500ml water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the pears and poach for 10-15 minutes, or until tender but not too soft (a knife should easily cut the flesh without resistance). Drain and let the pear cool.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with about 2.5cm simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water). When melted, remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until the butter has melted. Add the sugar and ground almonds, stirring to combine. When the mixture is cool, add the egg yolks.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a 22cm-24cm round springform cake tin and dust with the cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks, then fold them into the chocolate batter. Pour the chocolate mixture into the tin. Arrange the pear pieces on the top, pushing them slightly in.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. When cool, remove the cake from the tin and, just before serving, dust liberally with icing sugar. Serve in modest slices – this is rather rich.

Now buy the book

Torta della NonnaOur recipes are from Torta Della Nonna by food writer Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant, £16.99). Emiko has lived in Florence for more than a decade and the book is a collection of some of her beloved Italian desserts. To order a copy for £14.95 until 28 March, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free p&p on orders over £20.