sweet & short – white chocolate cake w vanilla poached pears

sweet & short – white chocolate cake w vanilla poached pears

Please pass the tryptophan. While lounging after last week’s turkey feast, I dreamed up a list of desserts I wanted to make in December.

I was ready to shift into the high baking mode for the holiday season when I suddenly realized that December would be two weeks short. M and I are taking our Asia trip early this year. It all seems great when we make our plans (who doesn’t want a vacation to come early?) but the consequence is to skip out on most of the holiday celebrations in New York.

Resorting to selective solid sweets, I came up with this easy yet elegant White Chocolate Cake with Poached Pears. It balances the clean flavor of pears with the seasonal decadence of cake and the pastry cream.


White Chocolate Cake w Vanilla Poached Pears


Vanilla Poached Pears
  • 4 cups water
  • 1-1/4 cup (8-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoons black peppercorn
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 Bosc pears; peeled, cored, and quartered
Pear Pastry Cream
  • 1 cups half-and-half
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 4 poached pear quarters, pureéd or finely mashed
White Chocolate Cake
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 10 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 5 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) almond flour/ground almonds
  • White Chocolate Cake
  • Pear Pastry Cream
  • Vanilla Poached Pears
  • Slivered Almonds, toasted (optional)


Vanilla Poached Pears

1. In a large saucepan, heat water and sugar until warm and sugar has dissolved. Add cinnamon, peppercorn , vanilla and salt; slide in the pears and cover with a round of parchment paper, with a small hole cut in the center.

2. Keep the liquid at a simmer and poach pears until cooked through, about 15-25 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let the pears cool in their liquid.

Pear Pastry Cream

1. Heat half-and-half in medium saucepan over medium heat until just simmering. Meanwhile, whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Add flour to yolk mixture and whisk until incorporated. Remove half-and-half from heat and, whisking constantly, slowly add half-and-half to yolk mixture to temper. Whisking constantly, return tempered yolk mixture to saucepan, whisk in poached pear pureé.

2. Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 5-6 minutes.

3. Increase heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously, until bubbles burst on surface, about one minute. Remove saucepan from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla until butter is melted and incorporated. Strain pastry cream through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Press lightly greased parchment paper directly on surface and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

White Chocolate Cake

1. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a near boil, remove from heat.

2. In a medium bowl, add white chocolate, pour heavy cream over white chocolate. Allow mixture to sit for 1 minute, whisk until white chocolate has melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350℉. Line bottom of one 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, add egg yolks and sugar, beat on medium-high speed until pale and creamy about 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add cream cheese, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Add melted white chocolate and vanilla, until combined. Add almond flour and beat until fully incorporated.

5. In a clean medium bowl, add egg white whites, with an electric hand-mixer, beat to stiff peaks. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until combined. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in remaining egg whites until there are no white streaks remain.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until set, 45-50 minutes. Turn oven off and cool cake for an hour in oven with door ajar. Remove cake from oven and cool completely, at least 30 minutes. Assemble cake or wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble.


1. Spread pastry cream in the center of cake and decorate with pear quarters. Sprinkle with toasted almond and serve.