Poire Belle Hélène Cake

Today’s cake was ‘inspired’ by three sad looking pears in our fruit basket which needed to be eaten (or at least used) today. I decided to bake a cake – after all it’s Sunday.  This cake recipe uses two of the main ingredients of Poire belle Hélène, a classic dessert invented by French chef Auguste Escoffier, pears and chocolate – hence the name.

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Preheat your oven to 180C, fan oven to 160C or gas oven to 4.

Beat 225g unsalted butter, 225g caster sugar with a hand-mixer in a bowl until the mixture is really creamy. Add 4-5 eggs (depending on size), one after the other, whilst continue mixing. Sift in 225g flour and a pinch of baking powder.

Divide the mixture into two equal portions. Add 100g of ground almonds and a table spoon of vanilla extract to one of the portions and two table spoons of cocoa powder and a splash of dark rum (or alternatively some rum aroma flavouring) to the other portion. Mix them both well.

Grease a baking tin (I used a deep roasting pan, 32cm x28cm, but you could also use a round baking tin) and pour in the chocolate/rum mix first and flatten it with a spoon, then top the first layer with the almond/vanilla mix. Core three pears, cut them into segments and press them into the cake mixture in any pattern you fancy.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. Make sure the cake is cooked through.

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Leave to cool.

Whilst the cake is cooling down, melt about 2/3 of a 100g bar of chocolate. (Method: put the chocolate pieces in a mug, stand it in a sauce pan full of water and heat it up on the stove. Stir it until all the chocolate has melted and make sure the water doesn’t get into the mug). When the cake is cold to the touch distribute the chocolate on the cake using a spoon or similar. I used a milk chocolate with almond caramel pieces which gave the cake an additional texture of crunchiness.

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Wait until the chocolate has set, cut into slices and serve to your friends, family and yourself! To make it even more indulgent serve it with whipped crème or vanilla ice cream.

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