The lightest almost baked mousse-like chocolate cake with soft ripe pears is all you’ll ever need when that craving for chocolate gets out of control. Gluten-free, this cake is made with toasted ground almonds and gets a beautiful rise from whisked egg whites. A wonderful dessert to make for a special occasion! We will certainly be making this Gluten-Free Chocolate & Pear Almond Cake over Christmas!
A chocolate cake is not something we’d order from a menu. Ever. Not that we don’t like chocolate. Quite the opposite, really: we’ve been known to devour a whole bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk with Daim in one sitting. But a good chocolate cake is difficult to come across. Sometimes too dry, sometimes made with cocoa powder only and therefore not chocolatey enough, and sometimes ruined by greasy synthetic tasting frosting. This cake is nothing like that. It is moist, it is dark and it is light in texture with slightly crunchy caramelised sides. What is more, ripe pears are a beautiful addition to cut through all the chocolatey richness of the cake.
This recipe isn’t one of our own. We’ve adapted Barney Desmazery’s recipe for a Flourless Chocolate & Pear Cake. The recipe is wonderful as it is, but we’ve made it simpler by using widely available ground almonds and no alcohol.
To start, prepare your 18cm (7in) springform cake tin – we use and love this one here. Grease both the sides and the bottom of the tin. Then stick a circle of baking parchment on the bottom of the tin and grease the baking parchment. Then tip in a tbsp of caster sugar and swish it around so it sticks to both the greased sides and the bottom.
The recipe requires you to toast ground almonds. I’ve tried making this by using untoasted almonds and the cake still tasted gorgeous. But toasting the nuts adds another layer of flavour. The cake will simply taste richer and nuttier if you do. I like to toast them just lightly, until just starting to turn golden. Then transfer onto a large plate to prevent further browning and help cool quicker.
Break up dark chocolate (if you are baking for coeliacs, make sure to buy gluten-free chocolate – you’d be surprised how many aren’t). Melt your butter and chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and caster sugar until very pale and increased in volume. When you chocolate-butter mixture has cooled down slightly, mix it into the yolks. Then carefully fold in the toasted ground almonds.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. In three instalments carefully fold the egg whites into the cake mixture, taking care not to knock too much air out. It’s a delicate process. But it results in a well risen, very light-textured cake.
Your cake is ready. All you need to do is arrange your pears on top. Core, halve and peel your pears. I like arranging them in a circle around the outer edge, cut side down. Don’t press them into the cake batter, they should naturally sink whilst the cake bakes.
Bake in the oven at 160°C Fan for 40-45 minutes. Then leave to cool down in the tin for 15 minutes, before releasing. This Gluten-Free Chocolate & Pear Cake is simply wonderful served warm, with a dollop of creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt.
For other Gluten-Free desserts and bakes, have a look at:
- 10-Minute Coconut Yogurt Desserts
- Roasted Pineapple with Spiced Caramel and Creme Fraiche
- Pecan Praline & Banana Parfait
Gluten-Free Chocolate & Pear Almond Cake
- 18cm (7in) springform cake tin
- 85 g unsalted butter + 1tsp for greasing
- 85 g caster sugar + 1 tbsp for the tin
- 85 g dark chocolate broken into small pieces
- 3 medium eggs separated
- 85 g ground almonds
- 3 ripe pears peeled, halved and cored
- icing sugar for decoration
- creme fraiche to serve (optional)
- Line the base of an 18cm (7in) springform cake tin with a circle of baking parchment. Grease the top of the baking parchment and the sides of the tin with butter. Then tip a tbsp of caster sugar in and swirl it around so that sugar sticks to the greased tin all around.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C Fan.
- In a large frying pan, toast your ground almonds just until lightly browned and aromatic. Remove from the pan immediately to prevent further toasting, and leave to cool completely.
- Place butter and broken up dark chocolate in a microwave-safe dish. Melt in the microwave in short bursts, mixing in between, until all melted.
- In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold the cooled chocolate and butter mixture into the yolks. Then fold in the toasted almonds.
- In a separate large bowl whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Very carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in three installments. Try to not knock too much air out.
- Spoon the cake mix into the prapared cake tin. Then arrange the peeled and cored pear halves cut side down. Don't press them down, they will sink naturally whilst cooking.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. The cake should be cooked through, but very soft in the middle. Leave it to cook for 15 minutes before releasing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar.
- We like serving it warm with a dollop of creme fraiche. It is also great cold the next day, or you can reheat by placing it in the microwave for 20 seconds per piece.