Squidgy pear & hazelnut chocolate spread cake

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I first saw this recipe two years ago and have wanted to try making it ever since. Every time I’ve had some pears I’ve considered it but the thought of using a whole jar of chocolate spread (yes – a whole jar) has always put me off a little bit. Anyway, last weekend I decided to get over this and just give it a go. I’ve made something similar before when I made Jo Wheatley’s chocolate and pear torte.

This works well as a dessert if served warm with some ice cream or cream but also works cold as a cake (as my colleagues will testify). The cake is like a brownie in texture so you do need to be careful not to overcook it as otherwise it will start to dry out and lose its squidginess. When you take it out of the oven you still want it to have a slight wobble in the middle. You will need a 23cm springform baking tin.

Ingredients:

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400g jar hazelnut chocolate spread
50g unsalted butter (softened, plus a little to grease the tin)
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
140g self-raising flour
25g cocoa
2 ripe but not squishy pears, (peeled, quartered and cored – pears with a rounder shape work well)
2 tablespoons apricot jam (warmed and passed through a sieve)
50g whole blanched hazelnuts
Double cream or ice cream to serve

Method:
1) Heat your oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3. Butter then line a round 23cm springform baking tin.
2) Put the chocolate spread in a large bowl and add the butter, eggs and a pinch of salt. Whisk for 1 minute with electric beaters until the mixture is smooth and slightly bubbly.

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3) Sift in the flour and cocoa, then fold in with a spatula until smooth. Scrape into the tin and level the top. 4) Peel, quarter and core the pears. Cut 4 slits through the fat part of each quarter, then press lightly to make a fanned shape. Use a pastry brush to glaze the pears with apricot jam, then lift onto the cake in a clock-face pattern. Don’t press the pears into the mix.
5) Scatter with the nuts and bake for 40 mins until risen with a thin crust. The cake will have a very slight wobble when it’s ready, and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out coated with soft cake batter.

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6) Brush another thin layer of the jam over the pears (this stops the fruit from turning brown). Cool in the tin and serve warm or cold, with ice cream or double cream.

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