A killer chocolate dessert, minus the gluten
This is a really fudgy and delicious cake that just happens to be suitable for gluten-free diets. Ground hazelnuts and rice flour provide structure and a generous dose of dark chocolate provides deep rich flavor. Pears poached with vanilla and lemon provide a complementary fruity brightness.
Chocolate, Pear, and Hazelnut Cake
- 5½ ounces caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 2 pears, peeled and cored
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CAKE
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 3 ounces ground hazelnuts
- ½ cup rice flour
- 2 ounces hazelnuts, lightly toasted
- 6 egg whites
- 7 ounces caster (superfine) sugar
POACH THE PEARS
- Place the sugar, 2 cups of water, the scraped vanilla seeds, and lemon zest and juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Add the peeled and cored pears and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for approximately 10–15 minutes or until the pears are soft enough for you to easily insert a paring knife into the flesh.
- Turn off the heat and allow the pears to cool in the syrup.
- Once cool, slice each pear into four pieces lengthways.
MAKE THE CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 340°F.
- Grease a 9-in round non-stick spring form cake tin.
- Line the tin with baking paper on the base and side cut to size.
- Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in the microwave. Melt it on High (100%) in short 20-second bursts, stirring well in between each burst.
- Transfer the chocolate and butter mixture to a mixing bowl.
- Stir in the egg yolks and mix well, followed by the ground hazelnuts and the rice flour. Mix well again – the mixture will thicken and look separated. Mix in the whole hazelnuts.
- Whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer until you have a stiff meringue then add the sugar in three batches. The meringue will become a little wet. At this point fold it into the chocolate base in two batches.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the slices of pear on top, going around in a circle like the hands of a clock.
- Bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes or until just cooked. You want the center of the cake to still be a bit moist, as it will go fudgy once cooled.
- A crust should have formed on top of the cake.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin before turning it out. Once the cake has cooled, serve it immediately with thickened cream, if desired.