I took a beginner class called “Paint Your Own Replica of Monet’s Waterlilies” at the art museum last weekend. I was supposed to make an iconic painting of a pond while drinking wine and eating cheese cubes. It was supposed to be relaxing.
I was doing a bang-up job until the painters on either side of me started flirting shamelessly with each other. It got downright dirty up in there– dirtier than anything I’ve seen in an art museum, and that includes the time I saw body casts of naked dudes covered in silver paint and real human hair at a gallery in Chelsea.
So when it seemed like this guy was going to throw cocktail peanuts down her shirt, I started stress-painting. I added trees and reeds and snow all over the place, and I got the hell out of there. I had to get up early to go to the Talladega 500 anyway, and at that point NASCAR seemed like the tamer option.
I brought home an artwork Scott likes to call Winter at Icy Troll-Hair Pond, with Geyser(s).
I have to say that if I were the type who picked up a lady friend at art class and brought her home to dinner with my momma, I would want to end the evening with these delicious gingerbread pear cakes. Their night probably wasn’t as wholesome as all that, but I am trying not to think about it. In fact, I am actively trying to re-establish the cosmic balance of wholesomeness that they ruined.
I think we can return to equilibrium if I make Thunder wear this wholesome Martha Stewart doggie sweater for one hour.
But if fifteen minutes is all I get before she goes Pac-Man on it, that’ll do.
These gingerbread pear cakes are adapted from a recipe for a blueberry gingerbread buckle (like a doughy cobbler) in Linda Zimmerman & Peggy Mellody’s Cobblers, Crumbles & Crisps.
The gingerbread is moist and rich, and the pears melt in your mouth. This dessert takes about 15 minutes of prep time and the gingerbread aroma lingers for hours. The whole thing is instant holiday goodness in your house, people. If you mess up the inversion of the ramekin when you’re serving them, or if you don’t have ramekins, it won’t look bad to serve the pears jumbled in with the cake. I made another batch in a 8×8 inch pan and scooped the cake out to serve it, and it was just as good.
Gingerbread Pear Cakes
4 pears (I used yellow bartletts, but this website is helpful if you’ve got a different kind and want to see if it’s good for baking)
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter + several small pats
1/2 c. brown sugar (packed)
1/2 c. strong brewed coffee
1/2 c. molasses
1 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest (I’d get 3-4 lemons)
2 tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger
vanilla ice cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream 1/2 c. butter (1 stick) and the 1/2 c. brown sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in the 1 egg, then the coffee and molasses.
In a separate bowl, combine all the flour, the 1 tsp. baking soda, the 1/4 tsp. salt, the 1 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. allspice and 1 tbsp. lemon zest, and the 2 tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger.
Stir the flour mixture into the bowl containing the wet ingredients.
For individual desserts, place a pat of butter (no more than 1/4 inch thick) in each ramekin and place ramekins in the oven for about 2 minutes until butter is melted. Remove ramekins from the oven and place about 4 slices of pear flush on the buttered bottom of each ramekin. Pour batter into the ramekins, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of room because the buckles will rise. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched.
Let ramekins cool for a few minutes, then work around the edges with a knife. Put a serving plate on the top of each ramekin and invert. Carefully lift the ramekin, (ideally) leaving the cake on the plate, with the pears face-up. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
For one large dessert, melt 4 tbsp. butter in an 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan or large ramekin so that butter coats the bottom. Place pear slices flush on the bottom of the dish, no more than 2 slices deep. Pour batter on top of the pears and cook for 35-45 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.
Let cool for a few minutes. Spoon the cake onto serving plates and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.