Brown Butter Cake with Pear and Chocolate

Brown Butter Cake with Pear and Chocolate

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1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar, plus another spoonful or so for sweetening the whipped cream
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice (go with pears that are just barely ripe — too soft and they'll sog up the cake)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
1 cup cream


Preheat the oven to 350° Farenheit. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, dust with breadcrumbs or flour, and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.

To brown the butter, place in a saucepan and melt over medium heat, cooking until the butter turns a light brown and smells nutty and delicious (about 5-7 minutes). Scrape the bottom of the pan towards the end of this time, so that it browns evenly without the solids burning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.

Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. You want to whip them for several minutes, beyond the usual foam, until it thickens and will sheet off the beaters in thick ribbons (more than 5 minutes).

Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.

Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose volume, turn the mixture down to the slowest stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter in batches. 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, then use a spatula to gently scrape and fold in the last of the batter (be careful not to over-mix — though this cake has a hefty amount of leavening, it still gets a lot of its loft from beaten eggs, so you don't want to deflate).

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top (they'll sink to the middle as the cake sets), and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Whip the cream with a bit of sugar, and serve together.