Pears and pecans and chocolate … oh, my! You would never guess that this recipe is a fixed-up cake mix. It comes together in less than 20 minutes of prep time. And after just 30 minutes of baking, you have a dessert worthy of any restaurant’s pastry chef.
The secret is nothing more than a few convenient pantry staples.
The first time-saver is a can of pears in their natural juices. So there’s no peeling and slicing ornery pears. The next super-easy ingredient is salted caramel sauce ice cream topping, which has become a favorite at my house. Add chopped pecans and a boxed devil’s food cake mix and “Yum!” is right around the corner.
To make the cake super-moist and brownie-like, I added less water than usual and baked the cake in a single layer in a straight-sided, deep-dish tart pan or pie plate. This condenses the usually light and fluffy cake mix into the deep, rich, fudgy goodness that makes this cake so special.
Its rich flavor is just right without being overly sweet, and there is no need for icing or frosting.
I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Pear Pecan Chocolate Cake
Start to finish: 50 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 can (15 ounces) sliced pears in natural juices, drained
1/4 cup prepared salted caramel sauce (see Cook’s Note)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 box (15.25 ounces) devil’s food cake mix
Powdered sugar for dusting, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a 9- or 10-inch deep-dish (at least 2 inches high) pie plate or tart pan (see Cook’s Note), swirl the melted butter around the edges and bottom, coating well. Sprinkle the pecans over the bottom. Decoratively place the pear slices in a single layer, evenly spaced, around the edges of the dish. (Place pears around the middle of the dish if there are extra pieces.) Drizzle the caramel sauce over the pears.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and water until well mixed. Then add cake mix and stir just until wet ingredients are incorporated and batter is smooth. Gently pour and spread the batter over the top of the pears, smoothing out evenly. (It’s OK if the batter doesn’t reach the edges of the dish.) Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake begins to spilt around the edges.
Remove to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Use a small sharp knife and run it around the edges to separate the cake from the dish. Using oven mitts, flip the cake onto a flat cake plate as you would a pineapple upside-down cake.
Let cool for another 30 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Cook’s Note: Do not use a tart pan with a removable bottom. The butter, pears and caramel sauce will leak out and make a huge mess. For testing purposes, I used Smucker’s Simple Delight Salted Caramel Topping. Any type of prepared caramel topping will do. If the topping is too stiff to measure, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds to loosen.
Approximate values per serving: 296 calories, 16 g fat (4 g saturated), 46 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 38 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 327 mg sodium.
Alicia Ross is the co-author of “Desperation Dinners!” (Workman, 1997), “Desperation Entertaining!” (Workman, 2002) and “Cheap. Fast. Good!” (Workman, 2006). Contact her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the Kitchen Scoop website at www.kitchenscoop.com.