Having grown up in Italy I always find it hard in the UK during the winter months, the sun is lower, less stronger than in Italy and it is always so dark during the day! Sometimes I feel like going to bed at 5 pm!
As we approach spring and the days are getting longer, there is more light out there, the first daffodils are peeping out and the air feels less heavy too. It is nice to see some colour and some more sunshine. I bought some hyacinths to keep on my window cill: they seem to radiate happiness, I love their smell and their bright colour lifts my mood every morning when I come down to the kitchen. How wonderful that something as simple as keeping a bunch of flowers on your mantelpiece can improve your feelings and mood. Life is made of simple pleasures.
Today I wanted to make something nice to offer the kids for "merenda", their afternoon snack. I love picking them up from school with a nice homemade cake in my bag. They usually scoff the whole lot really quickly especially if it is made with chocolate! I use only organic flour when I bake for them now; there are far too many allergies thanks to our genetically modified wheat! Not great but buying good quality flour is probably a good idea.
What I baked was a soft sponge cake with fruit and chocolate. I chose pears this time which go heavenly with chocolate.. dark chocolate always for me please. Once you get used to it you will ditch the milk one forever: it is inferiour in quality, as it has more sugar and less cocoa content.
Sometimes I have chocolate with 90 % cocoa content and I am stunned by how much my children love it. You would think that it is far too bitter for a child's palate but there you go, children can be more food connoisseurs than we can imagine.
- Prep Time : 20 minutes
- Cook Time : 50 minutes
Melt the butter over a low heat and let it cool down. Peel, core and cut the pears into cubes. Put them on a plate add the lemon juice, the brown sugar, mix well and set aside.
Whip the yolks with the caster sugar until pale and creamy. Add the melted butter, the vanilla, the milk, the lemon zest and the sifted flour. Mix well. Whip the egg whites until firm and gently add them to the mixture stirring from top to bottom.
Pour the mixture onto a well greased mould measuring approx 22 cm or 8 inch and put the diced pears on top. Chop the chocolate with a knife and sprinkle it over the pears.
Cook for 50 minutes at 180C or 350F.
I decorated with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
If you like chocolate and pears have a look at this other version of chocolate and pear cake.