Deep-Dark Gingerbread with Caramelized Pears and Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp dutched cocoa powder
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg

For the pears:

  • 4 pears, peeled, halved and cored
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position & preheat to 350°F. Grease the bottom & sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish & dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.  Combine all the dry ingrdients (flour-cocoa powder) in a bowl.  Beat the butter, Molasses, sugar, buttermilk, milk, and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth and thick, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed (do not overmix). Scrape the batter in to the prepared pan and smooth the surface.  Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and the edges have pulled away from the pan sides, about 40 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Gingerbread can be wrapped in plastic, then foil, and refrigerated for up to five days.)

In a large pan with a lid, melt the butter and add the brown sugar.  Place each pear cuts side down in the butter.  Cover the pan and turn the heat down very low.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until the pears are tender and the butter mixture is very syrupy and thick.  Set aside to serve with your pudding.