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Pear-Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream

(recipe, Kimberly Culbertson)

Introduction

This was inspired by my neighbors, Celeste and Jory, who had a fantastic harvest of Bosc pears in their parking strip this year. They had so much, there was enough for them, us, their friends and lots of others. It was a lovely gift, and we thank them. This recipe was also chosen by NPR for their recent Ginger recipe contest. See the judging at http://www.npr.org/blogs/sundaysoapbox/2009/11/andthegingerrecipewinners_1.html

Ingredients

  1. Ingredients:
  2. Topping of caramelized pears:
  3. 3 Medium Bosc Pears, sliced in half
  4. ¼ cup sugar
  5. ¼ stick butter
  6. 1 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, chopped finely
  7. Batter:
  8. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1½ tsp. Baking Powder
  10. ½ tsp. ground Cardamom (preferably freshly ground)
  11. ¼ tsp. grated Nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  12. 1 in ginger root (peeled and grated) Make sure it is very fresh and plump.
  13. ¼ tsp. salt
  14. 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  15. ¾ cup sugar, preferably raw or demerara
  16. 1 tsp. vanilla
  17. 1 large egg
  18. ¾ cup whole milk
  19. Whiskey Whipped Cream:
  20. 1 cup whipping cream, chilled
  21. 1 tsp. sugar, preferably raw or demerara
  22. ½ tsp. vanilla
  23. 1 tsp. whiskey, infused with crystallized ginger*

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Caramelize the pears:
  3. Peel pears, split lengthwise and core. Dip cut sides into sugar. Reserve any remaining sugar.
  4. Melt butter in a seasoned heavy 10-inch cast-iron skillet over low-to moderate heat on the stovetop until it stops foaming. Arrange pears, symmetrically, sugar side , with remaining sugar on the skillet until the sugar begins to caramelize to a golden color. At that point, remove the skillet from the cooktop and sprinkle with the crystallized ginger.
  5. Make the cake:
  6. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom, nutmeg and salt. Beat the butter, sugar and ginger pulp in a bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture and milk, alternating. Mix at low speed and just until combined.
  7. Pour the batter over the slightly cooled caramelized pear topping. Reposition them if they shift. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the top looks golden and a wooden tester comes out clean the first time.
  8. Cool the cake for 5 – 10 minutes. Loosen the cake with a thin knife around the edge of the skillet. Put a plate on the skillet and quickly invert it to tip the cake onto the plate. If necessary, reposition the pears.
  9. Make Whiskey Whipped Cream:
  10. Beat the cream with the sugar, infused whiskey and vanilla. Beat it until it forms soft peaks.
  11. Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature with chilled whiskey whipped cream.