Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentines Day: Warm Upside-Down Pear Cake With Tangerine Custard Sauce

Pear Parade

From Denny:  For pear lovers - and lovers - this is an outstanding dessert good enough for any holiday!

Like any upside down cake this one is practically beginner cook and foolproof.  The custard requires a more experienced cook and a little time but is well worth the effort.

The cake is a simple one using all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, tangerine zest, a few tablespoons of milk and heavy cream, a couple of eggs, cognac and pecans.  Cream, cognac and pecans (all fav ingredients of mine) all play off each other for a wonderful flavor combination.

This tangy tangerine sauce is an unusual and clever pairing with the pears and hearty cake.  The sauce combines half and half cream, tangerine juice, tangerine zest, vanilla extract and sugar along with the egg yolks to make it rich and memorable.

Sold?  Yeah, me too!  If you can't find tangerines, try substituting oranges.

Tip:  In fact, every time I enjoy a fresh orange I go ahead and take the time to zest it, placing the zest in the freezer like a treasure mounting up over time.  Then, when I need some orange zest for any recipe I'm ready to go.

Warm Upside-Down Pear Cake With Tangerine Custard Sauce

From: San Francisco Flavors: Favorite Recipes From The Junior League of San Francisco - Junior Leagues, young women, throughout the country do a lot of charity work in their communities.  Support them by purchasing any of their cookbooks.

San Francisco Flavors: Favorite Recipes from the Junior League of San Francisco

San Francisco Junior League Recipes over at Amazon books

Serves: 10 - 12. This cookbook notes that it’s “an old-fashioned dessert, updated with a tangy, smooth sauce. If tangerines are not in season, substitute with oranges.”



3/4 cup sugar
3 tbls. water
3 large Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices (do this right before you pour batter in pan, otherwise they will discolor)


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbl. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tbl. unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tbls. sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 tsps. grated tangerine zest
3 tbls. milk
3 tbls. heavy cream
3 tbls. Cognac
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Tangerine Custard Sauce:

1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks at room temperature
1 cup half-and-half
Grated zest of 2 tangerines
1 tsp. fresh tangerine juice
1 tsp. vanilla

To make the topping:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan.

2. In a small saucepan, stir sugar and water over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat and simmer, without stirring, until the color is a deep amber, about 10 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally and crushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush.

3. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan, tilting to coat the bottom. Set aside. Right before pouring the cake batter into the pan prepare pear slices and overlap the pears in concentric circles on top of the caramel.

To make the cake:

1. In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

2. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs and zest and beat until light and fluffy.

3. In a small bowl, combine the milk, cream and Cognac. Alternately, add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the batter in thirds, stirring to blend after each addition. Stir in the nuts.

4. Arrange peeled pear slices over the caramel then pour cake batter over the pears and caramel.

5. Bake in preheated 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until golden and cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

(Note: I had to place a piece of foil loosely over the top of the cake to prevent it from getting too dark).

6. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges, place a platter over the cake and invert. Let rest for 1 minute, and then remove the pan. Serve the cake warm, with the cold sauce on the side.

To make custard sauce:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together.

2. In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the half-and-half and zest just to a simmer; do not boil. Gradually whisk half the hot mixture into the yolk mixture. Return to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens and coats a spoon, about 5 minutes; do not boil.

3. Strain the custard into a clean bowl. Whisk in the tangerine juice and vanilla. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

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