This Winter, Juni fell in love with pears, which is odd given her clear preference for face-squishingly sour fruits, such as pomegranate and kiwi and pineapple. Therefore, our fruit bowl has been well stocked with Bosc pears for the past several months. I also love pears. Fresh pears are so juicy and sugary and pleasantly gritty. And they have the most fetching shape of all the fruits. But I have never met a pear in a dessert that I liked. They always seem to melt away into the other flavors, losing any identifiable pear-ness. A few months back, I baked a particularly disappointing Pear Butterscotch Pie from Gourmet Magazine (RIP). Not that it didn't taste good. It was pie. It tasted good. But it did not taste at all like pear OR butterscotch. It tasted like pie spices. It could have very well been an apple pie made with mediocre, out-of-season apples. So pears seem to always fail me in baking. Their flavor and texture are too delicate. They require a light touch. Or, as it turns out, brown butter.
And the result? This cake is dynamite. It is moist and flavorful, with wonderful bits of chocolate and pear. The pear actually tastes like pear and yes, the pairing of the pear with the chocolate is perfect. But it is the browned butter in the batter that will blow your mind. Alliterations aside, make this cake and enjoy. And don't be afraid to brown your butter.