Friday, February 10, 2012

In the Land of Milk and Honey

Hello all! As I write this post I'm currently in the big Starbucks in Harvard Square, feeling eminently cool and snooty, hahah. It's a nice environment if you like white noise around you when you work. I decided to treat myself to coffee since I'm having a relaxed day, and since I successfully managed to end my coffee addiction about two weeks ago. It may seem a little contradictory to treat myself to coffee as a reward for ending addiction to it, but it works for me!

On to the food. Last night my beautiful friend Caitlin and I got "Becky Home Ec-y" (great phrase, thanks Caitlin) and made these Pear and Almond Upside Down Cakes from Baking Bites, a blog I've been following since high school. Really great stuff! And these little "cakelets," as BB calls them, are extraordinary:

 "If we were in the land of milk and honey, these would grow on bushes there."
They're REALLY that good.

There is no way to fully convey to you, dear Eater, how delicious these are. They are magical. Perfect. Succulent. Decadent. Amazing. They are one of the greatest sweets I have ever eaten.  If there was such a thing as a dessert for a brunch party (or really any darned time of day) these would be ideal. Truly, they are a marvel. And so, so, so easy to make! Here's the recipe, with a few edits of my own:

Upside Down Pear and Almond Cakes

Makes 8 cakes

2 tbsp butter, cold and cut into 8 small pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 whole large pear (or two small pears)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal (finely ground almonds/almond flour)* 
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)**
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

*I substituted all purpose flour, so I essentially used 1 cup of flour.
**Because I didn't use almond meal I added in 1/2 tsp of almond extract, not just 1/4 tsp.

I will note that we doubled the batter and got 12, not 16 cakes, but this is because we overfilled the cups. Only fill them halfway; they rise a lot and you'll want flat bottoms. See the steps for more detail on this.


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Line a muffin tin with 8 paper liners (If you don't have them, like me, your cakes will be just fine but you'll lose some of the brown sugar/butter topping. Next time I will be making them with the liners because that stuff is delicious). Place one small piece of butter into each muffin cup. Top each cup with 1 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Place pan in oven for 3 minutes, just until butter melts. Sugar will not be fully melted. Allow pan to cool for a few minutes before proceeding.

3. Taking care to slice around the core of the pear, cut pear into very thin slices no more than 1/8-inch thick.
Lay about 3 slices of pear across the bottom of each muffin cup (enough to cover the base, but it's absolutely fine if you they go up the sides), on top of the butter and brown sugar layer. Set aside while you make cake batter.

4. In a large bowl, combine flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk until well-combined. Add in eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract and whisk until batter is smooth. Add in melted butter and whisk until butter has been completely incorporated. Props to Caitlin for reminding me to double this second use of butter, otherwise they wouldn't have been as moist or yummy!

5. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups on top of the of pear layer. Only fill the cups halfway as they rise a lot (you want flat bottoms because they're upside down cakes--you can see in the picture that we overfilled the cups because they do not lay flat and we only got 12 out of the mix, not 16).

6. Bake for 19-22 minutes, until the cakes spring back when lightly touched (they'll be a light yellow color) and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Brown sugar may be bubbling slightly around the edges of the cake.

So close to heaven you can almost taste the sunlight and the clouds...

7. Take cakes out of the muffin pan and allow to cool on a wire rack in their paper liners. If you do not have liners, just run a knife around the edges of the cupcake to dislodge them. Cakes can be served fresh out of the oven or at room temperature. Invert cakes onto a plate and remove paper to serve.

Et voilĂ ! There you have DELICIOUSAMAZINGZOMGGGGGGG...drool...cakes! Best served piping hot and gooey on top!

If you told me I could never eat anything but these for the rest of my life, I might actually be okay with it. 

Happy eating!!

P.S. I WILL be making these in mini form for the Master's open house in Mather this Thursday. Come 'n get it, y'all!

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