cinnamon walnut pear cake with whiskey-mocha fudge

November 16, 2014

cinnamon walnut pear cake with whiskey-mocha fudge | une gamine dans la cuisine

"But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods...for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them." 
                                                      ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars 
Half my kitchen lost power two weeks ago, a term apparently known as a brownout; unfortunately my oven was included in the bereft half. Adding briny salt to the wound, my archaic boiler also stubbornly refused to produce heat properly (three cheers for farmhouse living!). Thankfully *knock on wood,* everything is now functioning perfectly. 

Currently there's a heavy blanket of snow coating the ground, trees, and a befuddled picnic table. Heat is crackling through vintage cosy vents and the oven is content to procure its beloved pies and cakes again, but I am not ready for the glacial chill. I don't know why snow and winter tap into an almost primal feeling of claustrophobia; as though the oppressive milky-grey sky will never again yield to spring's blue or the lush stormy celery greens' of summer. I was literally just beginning to allow myself to melt into the earthiness of autumn. If I dust off the philosopher's stone, there's a tiny part of me, as sharp & shattering as a hip bone, that relishes the grey and the cold and the endlessness. Maybe I fear yielding to this darker half completely, someday. But aren't we all a heady smorgasbord of idiosyncrasies? I doubt I'd feel complete without the sporadic brooding and occasional bout of melancholy.

Four days without heat in 30 F. temperatures makes one extra introspective, obvs. It also induces savage cravings for spiced cakes + wicked dark chocolate things.

cinnamon walnut pear cake with whiskey-mocha fudge | une gamine dans la cuisine

Anjou pears are quite stoic - mine lasted several days on a window seat through Arctic temperatures and one territorial battle with a cat. As soon as the oven was fixed, I grabbed my bundtlette pan, whiskey bottle and apple peeler. I sliced the pears into large chunks. When it comes to spice cakes, I like see and taste the fruit + plump chunks give the cake a soft, tender crumb. Toasted walnuts lend a hearty, earthy (almost bitter) flavour; if you prefer sweeter notes, use pecans or almonds instead. On their own, the cakes are spectacular; whiskey-mocha fudge sauce makes them bewitchingly irresistible.

The sauce is alarmingly easy to make. It's rich and will have to sit down after one spoonful. At one point, during a particularly frigid night, I was tempted to make a batch and eat it straight out of the saucepan. (I'm not kidding.) I doubt you will have any extra leftover but if you do, the fudge makes a sensuous waffle & pancake topping, pretzels love it, too!  

cinnamon walnut pear cake with whiskey-mocha fudge | une gamine dans la cuisine

cinnamon pear cake with whiskey-mocha fudge
makes 6 bundlettes + two 4-inch round cakes  (or one 12-inch bundt cake)

for the cake (cake adapted from Adventures in Cooking)
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
14 Tablespoons (1/2 stick + 6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
3 room temp. eggs
1/3 cup half & half cream (or whole milk)
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 pears - peeled, cored and chopped (I used red anjou)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

for the fudge sauce
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon espresso powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon whiskey

Prepare the cake; preheat oven to 350 F. Butter + generously flour cake pan(s) pans.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; set aside.

In stand mixer bowl fitted with paddle, beat together butter and both sugars until smooth (about 3-5 minutes on med-high). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition & scrapping down the edges of bowl as needed. Add the milk and almond; beat until smooth. {Note; don't worry if the batter looks slightly curdled.} Slowly add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined (try not to overmix). Remove paddle attachment and use a large wooden spoon or spatula to stir in pears + walnuts.

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake bundlettes 45-55 minutes. If you're making one large bundt cake, bake for 60-65 minutes. Cake is done when a tester inserted through center comes out clean.  Remove cake from oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before removing from pan.

prepare fudge
In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, brown sugar, salt, and espresso powder - break up any brown sugar lumps; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the chopped butter, heavy cream and whiskey. Stirring constantly over med-low heat, bring to a simmer. Add cocoa/sugar mixture and, still stirring constantly, continue cooking over low heat until smooth and fudge is just starting to create large, slow bubbles (about 3-5 minutes). Remove pan from heat and allow fudge to cool slightly before pouring over cooled cakes. {Note; fudge will thicken as it cools.}


  1. Wow these look and sound amazing! So incredibily perfect for the holidays. Your photos are stunning! Happy Sunday Valerie!

  2. I empathize with your claustrophobic feelings once the sky turns grey and the wind carries a biting chill. I feel the same way, especially once the snow arrives. We are officially blanketed in white now, and while it's somewhat pretty to gaze upon, I'd give anything for the rosy-golden hues of autumn again. I feel I've been cheated out of my Fall. That aside, these cakes are absolutely gorgeous. I am tempted to make a batch of that Whiskey Mocha Fudge just to eat with a spoon!

  3. These are just exquisite! I wish I could have one right now with my afternoon tea. Those flavors - spice, chocolate, coffee and pear - sound too sublime. Also the phrase "heady smorgasbord of idiosyncrasies" is the best thing I've heard all day (and would make one heck of a band name).

  4. I'm so glad you have your heat back, Valerie. That sounds fairly dire, regardless of one's proclivity to brooding. Gorgeous cakes, and I love the quote from my favourite childhood author.

  5. Oh whiskey in the chocolate sauce. You can cook for me anytime. I cannot believe you were without heat for that long. I would have been bathing in this sauce at that point. So glad you were inspired to make this, it looks beautiful!

  6. Beautiful post and pictures!

    I've never had Anjou pears... Those little cakes look very tempting and I love this combination of flavors.

    Sorry to hear about your brownout. Thankfully, it's working again!



  7. These cakes are just stunning - the flavours sound magical and your photographs really capture something special. Your words too resonate, as always.

  8. That glacial chill sounds unbearable, but so glad your oven is functioning again! These cakes are just lovely and I'm dreaming of the whiskey-mocha fudge!

  9. These look so delicious, and perfect for fall! And your photography is stunning, as always!

  10. Stay warm or come visit the West coast and we can visit all the pastry shops! Pears in a cake with chocolate and cinnamon, I'd eat the entire batch in a sitting.

  11. These are so darling, and as always your photographs and presentation are stunning!


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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