I'll be frank, I bought a punnet of pears with absolutely no idea what to do with them, until Ru wandered into the kitchen on Saturday evening wondering what we had for dessert. I'd like to point out that I hadn't even started on cooking dinner yet so yes, he is also a greedy sod like me, I had plenty of ideas running around my brain - poached pears, Poire Belle Helene, pear gingerbread... but I fancied something warm and gooey and full of chocolate. The pears I bought were actually Conference, perfect for baking as they soften brilliantly with heat so I had a solution.
I made an all in one chocolate sponge batter, peeled and cored the pears and threw it all together into the oven. 15 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake means that it's not an enormous effort and there's only one bowl to wash up afterwards, so it's one of the best no fuss desserts you can pull together at minimum notice. If you don't have fresh pears, tinned ones are perfect (it's my usual failsafe) and this would be delicious with tinned apricots. And if the chocolate sponge isn't enough, you could tuck a square or two of chocolate into the hollow of the pear. Adding a shot of espresso to the sponge batter would also really ramp up the chocolate flavour. And add some Poire William liqueur to some softly whipped cream for a grown up dessert. We drowned ours in creme anglaise which we brought back from France and it was so delicious that I forgot to take a photo. Whoops...
Chocolate Pear Sponge Pudding
8 ripe Pears, peeled, cored, trimmed and halved
190g Plain Flour
190g Caster Sugar
240g Butter, very very soft
1.5 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Milk
Prepare the pears and leave to one side
Generously grease a large baking dish with butter and preheat your oven to 170c / Gas Mark 4
Beat all the other ingredients together in a food mixer until really well combined. If it looks a little dry, add another drop of milk. It should be a floppy consistency rather than either stiff or pourable.
Arrange the pears roughly in the base of the dish and pour over the chocolate sponge batter. Level out and bake for 30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. You can make this ahead and reheat it for 10 minutes at 150c/Gas Mark 3