With only two weeks to go until the small person turns one, I have been doing some serious thinking about his cake. My original wish was to make the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cakes number 1 cake – a great big chocolate cake in the shape of a 1, covered in buttercream icing and studded with Smarties. Then I got to wondering, what if I could make the inside more exciting? What if the buttercream was a light, mousse-like ganache? What if the Smarties were….well, still Smarties? After all, the small person doesn’t eat actual food, unless you count dry cornflakes and the occasional pea. The only people really eating birthday cake will be all grown up and appreciative.
Anyhoo, I was having this most serious of conversations with The Nanna and describing how I was currently imagining a pear and hazelnut cake. Lo and behold, she was in possession of the following recipe, so what else was there to do but have a test run?
Dark chocolate, pear & pistachio cake
from Tartine via Gourmet Traveller online
200 grams of dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, broken up coarsely
70 grams of pistachio kernels
150 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature
150 grams of caster sugar
150 grams of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 pear (I used a William), peeled, cored and chopped
150 grams of dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, chopped coarsely
150 mls of cream
Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius. Butter and line a 22cm springform tin.
Pulse the chocolate and pistachios in your food processor until coarse crumbs form, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
Fold in the flour and baking powder, then the pistachio and chocolate mixture.
Lastly, fold in the pear.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer poked into it comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream to simmering in a small saucepan, then pour over the chocolate. Stir until silky smooth, then set aside, stirring occasionally until thickened. Spread over the cake, serve and devour.
Is it what I want for the small one’s birthday cake? Well, no. It’s a little too pudding-y to carve into the shape of a number 1. But is it tasty? Oh yes. Chocolatey, gooey with ganache, great texture. I’d be tempted to add another pear, although it may make it even more pudding-y. You could use almond or hazelnut instead of pistachio and still get a great result. And it’s heaven with some of Alex’s Best-Ever Creme Anglaise – another recipe for another day.