October 29, 2011

Chocolate Pear Cakes with Espresso Creme Anglaise

We can finally see the end. In a way it's the beginning, a rebirth of sorts. The last month or so has been a blur but the schedule shows a slow, breathless gap coming. The weekends are slowly returning to us and with it comes the opportunity to grasp it any way we want. The pace will weaken and soften but the chance to create family moments will grow and strengthen. I've been waiting for this date for months. And it's finally mine.

My wife and I talked last night about the plans for today. No plans for today. For the first time in recent memory we have no place to be. No place I'd rather be. The chance to sleep, really sleep. A long walk outside and some time spent in the kitchen. It's the kind of weekend day I've been anticipating since our Saturdays were open for business.

We woke up simultaneously on a brisk morning destined for late fall. It was drawn up that way. We rested longer than usual. Just the two of us wasting time together. I felt free and relaxed, feelings that have escaped us for months. We let it envelope us and then, after the delicate but bright morning light broke through our bedroom, we decided to get up. Slowly.

The morning was spent downstairs over a pot of coffee. A long, drawn out morning with a couple of cups and a bite for breakfast. The allure of such a start in the kitchen had been robbed from my memories. Yet I welcomed it with open arms. I misplaced the words to colour the picture but I knew it was unfolding just as it had in the past.

We took our dog for a long walk. A warmer coat to combat the crisp fall morning outside and three of us side by side by side. We wrapped ourselves around the neighbourhood and then in behind the trails. We noticed the line of bare trees with a pile of fresh leaves littered below. The metamorphosis was nearly complete. The mulch covered path was now completely covered with leaves from the adjoining trees. Some small, some large. We love scouring the grounds and finding our favourites.

Sometimes my wife asks me to find a yellow leaf or a crimson one. We spend the walk picking up one after another until we find the perfect one. Slightly weathered, clear veins and countless untold stories from her life high up above. We marvel at the cycle of life that takes place steps from our doorstep. One season both vibrant and full and alive and the next gone. Sent spiralling down, end over end until it hits the ground below. Forgotten and misplaced.

A beautiful fall day like this could only be made better with a day of baking. A bag full of seasonal Ontario pears picked up from a local farmer ready to be turned into this mouth-watering dessert. I love the combination of chocolate and pears and and turned the two into these little cakes. The moment the pan hit the oven, the aroma of the season filled our house. And within minutes, it was on a plate with a creamy espresso anglaise. Chocolate and espresso and pears. Perfect Saturday.

We made another batch of coffee and shared this dessert around the table. Just the two of us. The first of many opportunities to create indelible marks for our future recollections. I've been waiting for a day like this for months. And it's finally ours.

From my kitchen to yours,


Chocolate Pear Cakes

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large pears, thinly sliced (using a mandolin)
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease 12 muffin wells and pour a dollop of maple syrup and vanilla in the bottom of each well. Lightly coat with cocoa powder and tap out any extra.
  2. Using a double boiler over simmer water, heat butter and chocolate until completely melted.
  3. Using a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until thick. Add in the chocolate-butter mixture and oil and stir to combine. Add in the salt, cinnamon, cocoa powder,cayenne, baking powder and flour. Whisk until well combined.
  4. Place a couple of slices of pear across the bottom of each muffin well and pour batter over top to the top. Place muffin pan on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  5. Bake for twenty five minutes, or until sides are set and middle is soft.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool. Invert each mold and let rest. Pour some espresso creme anglaise on a plate and place a cake over top. Sprinkle with cocoa.
  7. Serves 12.

Espresso Creme Anglaise

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups 18% cream
  • 3 tbsp. brewed espresso
  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow and thick.
  2. In a small saucepan heat the cream until just boiling. While you're whisking, add some hot cream to the egg mixture.
  3. Pour rest of the rest of the cream into the pot and stir often with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about 4 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean pot.
  5. Add the warm espresso. Cover and refrigerate for an hour and keep aside until ready to serve.



  1. These look marvelous, Mike! The pairing of espresso and pear... well, that's just magical. This is the perfect dessert to share with a loved one... as I plan to do whenever I have the chance to make it.

  2. The only thing better than these little cakes is having the time to be able to enjoy them. I'm right with you on enjoying a breather with no place I absolutely have to be this weekend. Enjoy yours!

  3. How lovely. The writing, the cakes, the whole experience here. I found you through Brain and I'm so glad that I did. You are a talent, and I can't wait to visit back here for more. Blessings.

  4. Mike, these cakes are beautiful. I also like the touch of cinnamon and maple syrup in the ingredients. Bet they were a treat!

  5. Man, your photography is just STUNNING! I made something similar the other day. yeah, doesn't look like this, but sure tasted good :)

  6. I so want to try this recipe - I need more pear in my life!

  7. Mike, such a lovely way to spend a day with the one dearest to your heart. Glorious images and such a stunning cake!

  8. I have that plate too! Really... GREG

  9. Such a delicious way to spend the day with the loved ones. Love the maple syrup touch. Stunning photos

  10. Awww sounds like you both had such a beautiful day. And your cakes look like the perfect way to celebrate. I love the combination of chocolate and pears, and serving them with the creme anglaise sounds so fantastic.

  11. Beautiful photography and food! <3

  12. stunning mate. love the food and photography here. so very fall.

  13. Those cakes look and sound so delicious! I love the addition of espresso creme anglaise.

    Lovely clicks too!



  14. I love collecting the beautiful multi-colored leaves that autumn brings too, I only wish there were more out here in CA!

  15. This is such a stunningly gorgeous post from start to finish, Mike. Pear, chocolate, espresso, creme anglaise...I can't think of a more wonderful collection of flavours, and your photography blows me away every post.

  16. I love cute little cakes, especially more so if they involve chocolate :) What perfect little treats!


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