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