One of the worst things about being pregnant and me is that I can literally cook or bake ANYTHING I am craving at the time. Like cookies. And Chex Mix. And more cookies. It’s dangerous, really.
Mainly because I hate sharing. I blame the baby for this.
My cravings have definitely had a sweet edge to them, so when an old friend came into town, I used it as an excuse to make some delicious cake and ice cream. I have explored the use of this particular flavor combination, dark chocolate, pear and pistachio, in several desserts in the past, like this one and this one. I love the balance of the slightly bitter chocolate, the syrupy sweet pear and the salt from the pistachio, I figured it would be a good in cake form.
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For the cake recipe, I used this one from Smitten Kitchen–a fellow food blogger who always has killer and deliciously reliable recipes. It is the recipe of a cake from her favorite restaurant, Al Di La.
The ice cream recipe is from Chow.com, and it yields a rich, intensely flavored ice cream. I’ll include the pistachio ice cream recipe below, but if you don’t have an ice cream machine, store bought will be just fine. I like Haagen Daas.
Recipe: Al Di La’s Dark Chocolate Pear Cake
Summary: This recipe was originally posted on Smitten Kitchen, based off of a recipe from Al Di La restaurant.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, at room-temperature
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 pears, peeled, in a small dice (I used bosc, but any soft variety will work) 3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with breadcrumbs (I cheated and used flour with a regular cake pan and parchment), set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
- Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)
- While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) and cook it until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.
- Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.
- Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to loose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes [updated, thanks for your responses], or a tester comes out clean.
- Serve as is, with powdered sugar, a bit of whipped cream or the pistachio ice cream listed below. Will stay good up to one week if covered in an airtight container in the fridge.
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Recipe: Roasted Pistachio Ice cream
Summary: This recipe originally appeared on Chow.com
- 1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted and cooled
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Combine pistachios, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process until pistachios are finely ground (make sure they don’t become butter), about 15 seconds.
- Combine half-and-half, milk, and pistachio mixture in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat (should take about 12 to 15 minutes). Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside.
- Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and almond extract in a large bowl until smooth, foamy, and light in color, about 3 minutes. Slowly pour about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.
- Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard coats the spoon, about 3 minutes. (When you draw your finger across the spoon, it should make a mark through the custard, which should not run back in on itself.)
- Pour the custard into a large clean bowl and place over the ice bath to chill, about 15 minutes. Once the ice cream base is lukewarm, cover and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 3 hours or up to 12 hours.
- Once the base is thoroughly chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will keep in the freezer for up to 1 week.
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