This dessert features tender canned pear halves nestled in rich chocolate brownie-like cake and uses mainly store cupboard ingredients. So it’s perfect for those time in our lives when some ingredients are in short supply – like now during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Nigella’s Chocolate Pear Pudding with a Twist
I have adapted this recipe from one that Nigella shared in her book Nigella Express. I’m not one to mess with genius and I love Nigella’s recipes, but I just couldn’t resist giving her Chocolate Pear Pudding a gorgeous almond flavour hit. There’s just something about pears and almond together that I love.
I’ve also recently discovered, in the midst of a shortage of canned pears – of canned just about anything in fact – that you can use just one can of pear halves in this recipe and still get a wonderful result. In fact, I almost like it better with just one can of pears as the rich chocolate-y cake that surrounds the fruit is more of a feature. So by all means use two cans of pears if you have them, but if you only have one, that’s no excuse not to make this recipe!
What Do You Mean Pudding? This Looks Like a Cake to Me…
When I posted a picture of this ‘pudding’ on my Facebook page, one of my readers commented, ‘it looks more like a cake’. Frankly, that’s because this Chocolate Pear Pudding IS a cake – a soft, squidgy delicious cake that you serve with a sauce or ice cream.
The Canadian side of me thinks of pudding as a creamy, milk based dessert you eat with a spoon. However here in the UK, ‘pudding’ refers to any dessert. Dinner guests will refuse second helpings so they can ‘leave space for pudding’ and waiters will offer you ‘the pudding menu’. However, you are unlikely to find chocolate, vanilla or butterscotch pudding as we know it in North America on the menu. That kind of pudding is still fairy rare here, but I’m hoping to change that! For the purposes of this recipe, pudding simply means ‘dessert’.
Easy to Make
All you have to do is drained some canned pears, arrange them in a buttered cake pan, mix up a quick and easy batter and spread it over top. It does look as though there isn’t going to be enough batter when you first begin to spread it over the pears, but the idea is to leave them sticking out a bit. Just spread the small amount of batter patiently with a knife and it will be fine. Do not be tempted, as I was, to make more batter. This is not a good idea. It should look like this:
Then just bake at about 375°F for about half an hour and you will be rewarded with this:
Light, slightly squidgy cake atop warm, tender pears, all ready to be served.
Nigella’s Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake is So Versatile
I’ve made this recipe in the 8 inch (20 cm) square pan Nigella recommends but recently I also use a vintage baking dish that is 9 inches by 7 inches (18 x 23 cm). I quite like the results it gave as well. Christened ‘the rice pudding dish’ by my lovely husband, this dish is one used by his Grandmother and later by his late Mum to make rice pudding. I love it when I can use dishes, china and crockery that have sentimental value. It gives me a real sense of continuity and community.
You can serve the cake with ice cream, chocolate sauce or caramel sauce, or any combination thereof. (Salted caramel ice cream is particularly good with my version of Nigella’s recipe.) You could even garnish the ice cream with some toasted flaked almonds or a bit of sieved cocoa powder. I have also been tempted (although I have resisted) to eat this Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake straight from the baking dish with a spoon. It is that good! If you are not similarly restrained, be sure to let it cool down a little bit first. Those pears get hot in the oven!
Chocolate Almond Pear Pudding Cake – Printable Recipe
Chocolate Almond Pear Pudding Cake
- 9 to 12 pear halves from 2 medium cans of pear halves, drained If canned pears are in short supply, one can works very well too.
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ⅔ cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1½ teaspoons almond flavouring
- 1 cup all purpose (plain) flour
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C or 170° for a fan oven).
- Butter an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan. (You can also use a 9 x 7 inch pan, that's approximately 18 x 23 cm).
- Evenly space the pear halves, cut side down, on the base of the dish.
- Cream the butter and the sugar.
- Add the eggs and almond flavouring.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add to the batter and beat until smooth.
- Carefully spoon the batter over the pears and spread as evenly as possible with a knife to nearly cover all the pear halves. It's okay if some of them are peaking out.
- Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched lightly. The skewer test doesn't work here as this is a slightly squidgy cake and that's perfectly okay.
- Allow to sit for about five to ten minutes before cutting into squares to serve.