Vegan Chocolate Pear Cake

This rich, elegant vegan chocolate pear cake is the most wonderful holiday dessert. Perfect for Christmas, but delightful at any time of year!

A round chocolate cake is ready to be served, with a stack of small dessert plates nearby.

I really, really, really love this chocolate pear cake.

It started as a vanilla cake with pears and dark chocolate chunks. But the next few times I tried it, I went with a chocolate-on-chocolate version instead.

This double chocolate variety—chocolate cake, chocolate chunks—is now my go-to. This is the cake that I make for Christmas every year. It’s elegant yet simple, decadent but not gooey or overly rich.

And with the exception of a few people in my life who are either allergic to, or strongly dislike chocolate, I’ve never shared it with anyone who didn’t love it.

Chocolate & pears: an unexpectedly wonderful pairing

Chocolate and fruit is a hit-or-miss combination for me. I love chocolate and raspberries together. But I’ve never loved the equally popular chocolate and orange.

Most of the time, I like for chocolate cake to be simple and relatively unadorned. Maybe a swirl of good frosting or a little glaze, as in this beloved bundt cake.

Much to my surprise, I learned that chocolate and pear is a pretty popular pairing. And when I tried it in this chocolate pear cake, I could see why. The slight bitterness of dark chocolate works beautifully with the rich sweetness of ripe, seasonal pears.

In addition, the pears give the cake moisture. I fold half of the chopped pear into the cake batter itself. (If you fold all of the pair pieces in, they tend to sink collectively to the bottom.) Then, I top the cake with the rest of the pear and a big handful of dark chocolate chunks.

It all gets finished with a dusting of sparkling or cane sugar. That’s it: no frosting, no trimming or leveling, no fancy holiday decorations. These ingredients speak for themselves.

A vegan dark chocolate pear cakes rests beside a pink, linen napkin.

The cake is refined-sugar-free without that dusting, so it’s optional if you’d prefer to skip it. But I have to admit that I love the crispy, slightly caramelized topping it creates, which you can probably spot in the photos.

I based the cake itself off of a Peter Berley recipe from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, one that has served me very well in the past. It makes for a runny batter, and it’s important to let the cake bake until the top is truly set before taking it out of the oven. If you take it out too early, it’ll collapse, especially with the weight of chocolate and fruit. I usually give it a full 45 minutes, though I’d recommend you start checking at the 40 minute mark. When the top feels set (gently tap it with your finger to see) and is rounded, the cake is ready. If you need to give it up to 50-55 minutes, that’s OK. Here’s the recipe.

A few slices have been cut out of a round, chocolate cake, which rests on a serving dish.
A round chocolate cake is ready to be served, with a stack of small dessert plates nearby.
4.56 from 27 votes

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 10 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup maple or agave syrup
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup neutral vegetable oil such as grapeseed or refined avocado
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ripe pear, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sparkling, demerara or cane sugar, for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly oil or line a 9 inch springform cake dish with parchment.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  • In another mixing bowl, whisk together the syrup, water, oil, and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine thoroughly, but it’s OK if there are a few small clumps. Fold half of the pear into the cake, then pour the batter into the pan. Top with the remaining pear and the chocolate. If you like, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the top of the cake.
  • Transfer the cake to the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is rounded and set. Remove it from the oven. Allow it to cool for a whole hour, then you can release it from the springform pan. I recommend allowing it to cool for another couple hours before slicing: the dark chocolate will be very melty at first, and it’s better to give it some time! Enjoy.

Notes

*You can use the same amount of a trusted GF, all purpose flour blend.
A neat slice of festive chocolate pear cake is perched on a dessert plate, with a small fork for serving.

The cake is such a wintertime treat: chocolatey but not overly rich, sweet but not cloying, and the dark chocolate chunks make it feel fancy and festive in spite of the fact that it’s really pretty easy to make. You can definitely try the cake with a gluten-free, all purpose flour blend; I haven’t tried that yet, but I strongly suspect it’ll work. Just opt for a brand or homemade blend that you really trust and have had good experience with making 1-to-1 substitutions in the past.

As I mentioned on Sunday, my work this month is to stay open, soft, and loving, which includes sending a lot of love to you all for February 14th, and in general. Have a happy Valentine’s Day, if you feel like celebrating it, and I’ll be back at the end of this week with an enthusiastic review of Hannah Kaminsky‘s latest vegan cookbook masterpiece.

xo

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    51 Comments
  1. 4 stars
    Loved the texture of this cake. Super moist and fluffy. I wish I had omitted the cinnamon, I find that it overpowers the pear and chocolate flavors. To me, this tastes like a cinnamon cake.

  2. Hiya, i am currently doing Veganuary so can’t wait to bake this ! is there another egg substitute i could use instead of apple cider vinegar in this recipe ? or is that the best one.
    Will be posting my results on my food insta @kellykitchen18 if you would like to check it out 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Had some pears that I wanted to bake into something and this was just the thing for them. Perfectly moist and just the right level of sweetness! I did run out of maple syrup (only had 1/2 cup) so I substituted the last 1/4 cup with sugar and it worked beautifully. Can’t wait to make this again.

  4. 5 stars
    So yummy. I had to substitute coconut sugar & water mixture for the maple syrup. It turned out great. It’s definitely going into my permanent recipe collection.

  5. 3 stars
    The flavour was very good! However, the texture came out a bit gelled. We still had it but wondering if we made something wrong or what should the actual texture be like?

    • Hi Ana! I think it just needs more time in the oven. The top should be moist but firm, with chunks of chocolate, and the rest of the cake should be normal cake texture. Give it an extra 5-10 minutes in the oven next time, and see how that goes 🙂 Additionally, you can use an oven thermometer to make sure the oven is the right temperature (some run hot, some cold). I hope that helps!

  6. 5 stars
    Wonderful. I halved the recipe and used a 6 inch springform pan (there’s only 2 of us). I love how easy it is, but looks really fancy when it’s all baked up. Super light and delicious too.

  7. 5 stars
    This was great! Made with cardamom instead of cinnamon but no other changes. Brought it to a dinner party and everyone loved it. The crunchy topping is wonderful!

    Thanks

  8. Made this into 7 cupcakes with 85% dark chocolate pieces, without the pear. They were on the less sweet side, but were perfect for me and tasted wonderful. Thanks!

  9. I’d love to try this cake, it looks really delicious 🙂 Is it possible to substitute the maple syrup for regular sugar? I have no liquid sweetener at home in the moment

  10. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing Gena. I’ve always had this love-at-first-bite thing with chocolate pear cake. I first prepared it during the spring of 2013 and there is no week that passes by that I do not take make it at least once. But the weird thing is, my approach is kinda different from yours. I’ll definitely try yours as well.

  11. A lovely cake! Not too sweet, and a great texture. Perfect for coffee and tea, or a slice in the evening after a cozy meal! Next time, I’ll add 1.5 pears, as I loved the burst of sweetness and moisture from the chunks! Used an alkalized cocoa, but imagine a natural cocoa would bring out the fruity notes in the pear. Delish! Thank you for sharing!!

  12. This was great! Made with cardamom instead of cinnamon but no other changes. Brought it to a dinner party and everyone loved it. The crunchy topping is wonderful!

  13. Hi Gena! I’ve baked this once, it was amazingly moist 🙂 was looking at your note, and was wondering if you have tried substituting with a GF flour blend before? Thank you!!

    • I haven’t tried it myself with this cake, but if you use a blend you’ve had good results with in the past, I would imagine it’ll work nicely! Glad you enjoyed it.

  14. 5 stars
    This was absolutely amazing!! I made this recipe in mini brownie silicone molds as I always share cake with my work colleagues and they went down a real treat! Thank you so much for this truly delicious recipe, from everyone in my ambulance station 🙂

  15. Hi Gena! 🙂
    I’m wondering if I could make this with spelt? Totally fine that that means it would be be more dense than with all purpose but just wondering if I should use the same amount?

  16. This looks lovely and I’m keen to try it this week I was wondering if it would work as muffins rather than one single cake? Would the oven temp or timings need altered?

    • Hi Catriona,

      I think it might work. I’d try the same temperature for 22-25 minutes. I hope it turns out well!

      G

  17. 5 stars
    I made this and it came out so good! I used vegan chocolate chips on top and it worked perfectly. The cake is moist but fluffy and so delicious. Also if you don’t have a spring form pan, don’t worry! You can just use a glass pie dish and it will come out great, just remember to grease it. I would love to try this with strawberries instead of pear sometime.

  18. Your cake looks so chocolaty! and yummy of course! Adding pear to the cake is a very new and interesting idea. I’m sure it will add a great flavor to it different from how every chocolate cake tastes like. Another interesting thing is that you have used maple syrup instead of the usual granulated sugar! I’m sure it will really enhance the flavor. Need to try this out very soon.

  19. I love Dark chocolate alot, specially when I eat them into cake style. It’s not too sweet but enough 🙂
    This cake is so nice, I’m thinking bout asking my bf to do it for me bc he’s very good at baking xD
    By the way, the chocolate with the orange is so goodddd. How could you not love it :p

  20. I had to buy a springform pan to make this cake and it was 100% worth it! It was so delicious! Incredibly moist and flavorful! Everyone I shared it with loved it! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe!

    • When you make the vanilla version of this cake, do you change anything other than leaving out the cocoa powder?

  21. 5 stars
    Hi Gena –
    This is the first time I’ve had the courage to comment on your website. This week, I’ve been really enjoying eating this cake so I had to speak up!! It came together so quickly and easily. Pears are not in season here in Japan, so I used blueberries and a handful of walnuts – delicious. Can’t wait for the pear season to roll around – I can imagine just how delectable this combo will be. Thank you!!

  22. Oh Gena, this is an absolutely lovely and scrumptious looking cake! I love the combo of chocolate and pears!! And it’s easy!! I think I am going to try and make this or a version of it for my daughter-in-law when her birthday rolls around in a few weeks. Thank you!!! xoxo

  23. 5 stars
    OH YUM!! What a beautiful way to celebrate love – for oneself and others (even if the others are not in the same room). I will be making this cake soon.

  24. I love dark chocolate and I love cake without frosting, so you can say how much I am loving this particular cake of yours. And those pears in between.. delicious!

  25. Great! Thanks so much! All these recipes look great by the way. It’s refreshing to find vegan cake recipes that don’t have a list of obscure ingredients.

  26. Hey, I love the look of this cake but I don’t have cider vinegar. Would white wine vinegar work ok or would it be gross?