Guys, this Chocolate Cake with Poached Pears and Salted Caramel is a mouthful. It’s a moist and rich chocolate buttermilk cake, that’s iced with my favourite swiss meringue caramel frosting, garnished with some beautiful freshly picked poached pears, and finished with the most incredible homemade salted caramel drizzle. And although it’s called Chocolate Cake with Poached Pears and Salted Caramel, I might also refer to it from time to time as Don’t Cry On The Poached Pears and Chocolate Cake Because Your Summer Is Officially Over Cake.
Or DCOTPPACCBYSIOOC for short.
I am fairly certain that each component of this show stopping dessert, is helping to heal my holidays-are-over-blues. I mean, I can’t even believe that August is already over. It just started yesterday I thought!? I’m seriously in denial that in a few short days, I’ll be headed back into the classroom again. Like I keep pinching my kids and my husband because I’m 45% certain that I’m just in the midst of a really crazy dream right now and when I wake up, it’ll still be July.
Could someone please pass the salted caramel over here? I’m starting to tear up again.
I know that I’m super lucky to have the summers at home. And I have a pretty amazing job with some great colleagues and really incredible kids. But guys, when school is out for the summer, I hide my lunch bag in the very back of my closet so that I don’t have to think about making school lunches for a while. I don’t even want to look at it. And my alarm clock? I’m pretty sure that I threw that in the campfire pile at one point a few weeks ago.
Speaking of alarms, it has just dawned on me as I’m typing this that I will resume waking up teenagers again.
I just asked hubs if he was going to eat that last piece of cake. I’m starting to hyperventilate over here.
You know in exercise class when the instructor tells you to hold plank for 1 minute, and it feels like a freaking eternity? Your whole body is shaking and you’re not sure you’ll make it out alive. But the 30 second break you get in between planks feels like a nanosecond? Yup. That’s how the school year/summer break ratio feels sometimes.
Oh well, it’s all good. You know I’m slightly exaggerating my feelings (I can hear my kids shouting, “she is not!!”). I started this summer on an epic girls trip to New York City and I’m ending it with this beautiful cake. Not to mention all the fun times and great food in between, and there is just too much to list!
This cake is my favourite chocolate buttermilk cake, baked in 6 inch pans. I almost always have layers in the freezer, because it stores and thaws really well with no compromise to taste. The poached pears were made ahead of time as well, and left in their poaching liquid overnight. And the salted caramel is pretty much guaranteed to be in our fridge at any given time, so I used that to flavor the swiss meringue icing and glaze the top. The combination of chocolate and pears together is outstanding! The deep and rich cake is balanced perfectly with the mild tasting and slightly sweet pears. And the caramel on top is just an added sweet and salty taste that pulls it all together.
So while I dig my alarm clock out of the ashes and dust off my lunch pail, I really would encourage you to make this gorgeous fall dessert. Perhaps as a celebration cake because your kids are headed back to school?
Happy September friends,
Chocolate Cake with Poached Pears and Salted Caramel
For the chocolate cake:
-1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups of sugar
-1 1/4 tsp of baking soda
-1 tsp of baking powder
-1 tsp kosher salt
-1/2 cup of cocoa
-1/4 cup of oil (I use canola)
-2/3 cup of buttermilk
-3 large eggs
-1 tbsp vanilla
-1/2 cup of strong , hot coffee
1. Preheat oven to 350° Grease and cocoa three 6″ pans (or use two 8″ cake pans).
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all of the ingredients except the hot coffee. Mix to combine.
3. Slowly pour the hot coffee into the bowl while mixing on low speed. Once all of the coffee is in, mix on high for approximately 3 minutes.
4. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans and bake for approximately 25 minutes. If you’re using and 8 inch pans, bake for approximately 35 minutes.
5. Cool cakes in pan for 5-8 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.
For the salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream
*makes enough for one 8 inch round double layer cake. Eat Swiss Meringue cakes at room temperature
-4 large egg whites
-1 cup sugar
-3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and room temp
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-pinch of salt
-3/4 cup of salted caramel
1. Fill a saucepan (large enough to fit your stand mixer bowl just a few inches) with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low so water continues to simmer.
2. In your stand mixer bowl, hand whisk the egg whites and sugar just until combined. Place over simmering pot and whisk for approx 4 mins until the egg whites are hot (about 150 degrees). The sugar should be dissolved by this time as well. Place the bowl of egg whites on the stand mixer and attach the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium until whites have increased in volume and the outside of the bowl is just slightly warm to the touch.
3. Remove whisk attachment and replace with paddle attachment. Beat on low-speed until mixture is completely cooled. Increase speed to medium and add butter pieces one at a time. Scrape the bowl and continue to beat until buttercream is glossy, smooth and thick. It may separate at first, but continue beating and it will emulsify (this can take up to 10 minutes!). Add vanilla flavouring and pinch of salt and beat until combined. Add the salted caramel. Use immediately or refrigerate for a week. Icing will need to be at room temperature and whipped for about 5 minutes if kept in the fridge.
For the salted caramel:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp sea salt
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium- high and bring to a boil, without stirring. Use a wet pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan if you need to. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 7 minutes.
2 Remove mixture from the heat and very carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble a lot but keep mixing. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Bring back to the stove on low heat and stir until you have a smooth sauce. Allow the caramel to cool. The salted caramel sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to a month. Reheat for about 15 seconds in the microwave before serving.
For the poached pears
- 3 large ripe but fairly firm pears
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup sugar
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel the pears. Remove the seeds and cut in half or quarters as desired. Meanwhile, heat the sugar and water in a medium saucepan, over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pears, turn the heat down to low and poach for approx. 15 minutes, or until pears feel fork tender. Remove from heat and allow the pears to cool in the liquid. Keep the pears in the fridge until ready to use.
To assemble the cake:
1. Place one chocolate cake layer on a cake plate or serving platter. Top with 1 1/4 cups of icing and spread to the edges. Do the same for the second layer. Add the last layer and add 1 1/2 cups of frosting to the top of the cake, being sure to spread it to the edges. Use a pallet knife to spread a very thin layer of icing on the sides of the cake. Smooth out the icing on the sides, to reveal the chocolate cake layers underneath. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
2. If the caramel has been in the fridge, microwave it for about 15 seconds so it pours easily. Using a spoon, drizzle the caramel all over the top of the cake, so it runs down the side. I used about 1/2 cup of caramel.
3. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and pat them with a paper towel to remove access liquid. Assemble on the top of the cake. Enjoy! Keep any leftovers in the fridge.