Monday, December 1, 2008

Gingerbread Pear Upside Down Mini Cakes

If Chronicle Books could just give me a stipend to write up about how awesome the recipes from their dessert cookbooks are, that would be great. I would even just take donations of said cookbooks. My sister (who works at Chronicle) gave me the recipe for a upside down pear gingerbread cake ages ago and I only just got around to trying it. It's from this cookbook:

And really, can anything from a cookbook with a title like that be bad? Doubtful. I'm kind of in love with Chronicle Book, besides making some awesome cookbooks (and, you know, employing my sister), there's a designer at the company that makes a bunch of awesome cupcake themed prints and I think I own all of the collection, including this stationary:

You may recognize it because I use her wrapping paper set under almost all the photographs in this blog, like these recent guys with the cute peppermint candy print:

You can see the bon-bon print under the caramel cake I posted the other day. Using the wrapping paper under the baked goods is a good compromise because I love the designs so much that it hurts me to see it ripped off of presents. My sister forwarded the designer a fan-girl-esque e-mail of mine to the designer in which I was rambling about hyperventilating upon seeing the new products and it was embarrassing.

Anyway. What I'm getting at is that I'm too lazy to type up the recipe for the cakes I made (and am also scared about accidentally violating some copyright law and being banished from Chronicle Books for eternity) but you should probably just buy the cookbook because the recipe is delicious and everything else you make from said cookbook will be delicious. And because I said so. While you're at it, pick up a copy for me as well.

The official name of the recipe is sticky pear and walnut upside-down gingerbread, which is quite the mouthful. BJ suggested I rename it but um, to what? SPWUDG isn't very catchy either.

The recipe makes one large cake but since I prefer mini sized things, I made 16 cupcakes. Cupcakes? Muffins? Small cakes. I followed the recipe as written but just used muffin tins instead one cake pan. The unmoldings was a bit tricky since I didn't really think that step through-- in a normal upside down cake you flip the cake pan onto a plate to unmold it and I realized I couldn't do that with a tray full of mini-cakes. But running a knife around each tin and then unmolding onto a cookie sheet worked beautifully, I was quite pleased.

The taste? These. Are. So. Good. It's really no surprise that I love them, since I have a long standing passionate love affair with pears. The gingerbread does overwhelm the pears a bit but pears have such a delicate flavor, its to be expected really. But at the same time, I don't turn up my nose at a gooey, brown sugar encrusted piece of gingerbread. I think these are actually better the next day, they managed to get even more moist, sticky and hggghlkfhg. I love them.

I did find a recipe online that is similar to the one I used, so I'll post it. Again, I didn't actually use this recipe so I can't vouch for it but the idea is there!

Not-The-Recipe-I-Used Pear Gingerbread Cake


For topping:
  • 2 1/2 firm pears (preferably Bosc)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For cake:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup molasses (preferably mild)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


Peel and core pears and cut each into 8 wedges.

Melt butter in skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low, then sprinkle brown sugar over bottom of skillet and cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes (not all sugar will be melted). Arrange pears decoratively over sugar and cook, undisturbed, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together molasses and boiling water in a small bowl. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes, then alternately mix in flour mixture and molasses in 3 batches at low speed until smooth.

Pour batter over topping in skillet, spreading evenly and being careful not to disturb pears, and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

Cool cake in skillet on a rack 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of skillet, then invert a large plate with a lip over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert cake onto plate. Replace any pears that stick to skillet. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Why are you still reading this when you could be doing productive things such as buying me Christmas presents or teaching me the material that's going to be on my final tomorrow? Geez, some people...

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