Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pears Belle Helen Cake

My gorgeous husband's favorite dessert is Pears Belle Helen. It is a French dessert that consists of a vanilla poached pear topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and toasted almonds (at least that is the way it's done at our favorite French restaurant).  It's a simple dessert, but it is consistently the only dessert he orders.
  I recently bought some fresh pears at the market and wanted to use them up. So, I came up with this dessert. (I'll say the same thing I did about the Nutella Crinkle Cookies, I don't know if I'm the first to make a Pears Belle Helen cake, but I like to think so.)  It's really easy. And thinking about it now, I think it might be even easier and tastier if I had used canned pears instead of fresh. Next time I'll do that instead!
It's really simple.

Here's what you'll need:

One boxed cake mix (white, yellow, or french vanilla), vanilla and 4 pears (or one can of pear halves in juice)
Prepare the cake batter per the box directions, but add 2 tsp of vanilla extract - only 1 tsp if using the French vanilla flavored mix. If you are using canned pears, replace the water in the boxed mix with the pear juice from the can. This will make your cake extra tasty! Set the batter aside.
I always mix my wet ingredients first and then add the dry mix. So I added my vanilla in with the wet ingredients.
Next, peel the pears. (You don't need to do this with the canned pears.)

Cut them in half,

and remove the stem and core. (Again, you don't need to do this if you are using canned pears.)

Now just cut the pear halves into slices.

Place the slices in the bottom of your greased baking dish. You can use a 13x9, or 2 8x8s or 2 9x9 pans. I'm doing 2 9x9 pans today. You can arrange the pears in a pretty pattern - like the pan on he right, or just squeeze them in there any old way you can fit them - like the pan on the left.

Next, evenly divide the cake batter between the two pans (or just spread it out evenly over the pears if you are using a 9x13 dish).

Once the batter is evened out, the cake(s) go into a preheated 350F oven for the recommended time on the box (mine was 28-32 minutes or something like that). Mine was done after 30 minutes.

This is what they look like when they come out of the oven. Let them cool, and then trip the tops of the cakes so they are flat. This way, when you flip them over, the pear side is flat and pretty.

If you want it to be pretty when you flip it over, you'll want to trim the top of the cake to be flat. I didn't, and the bump caused my flipped side to break. I'm not serving it to company, so I'm not worried. Just cover it with whipped cream and no one will know. :)
On a side note, I was going to put a layer of vanilla custard between the two cakes and stack them high, but the hubby said that he'd rather have it with just whipped cream. It's his dessert, so I did as he wished. But, if I were making it for myself I would add the vanilla custard/pastry cream in between the two cakes. I think this would mirror the vanilla ice-cream in a true Pears Belle Helen quite nicely. Part of me thinks that my adorable husband just wanted to save me the extra work - and he wanted to eat his dessert sooner. :)

My hubby took this picture of his slice of cake. It's topped with sweetened whipped cream, my Chocolate Sauce and some sliced almonds.

He also took this shot. He said it was very dramatic. I happen to agree. I like that you can see the nice big slice of pear.

This is my piece. I love me some Chocolate Sauce!
The dessert was a rousing success. It tastes just like a Pears Belle Helen, but with more texture. Next time I will definitely use canned pears. The juice will give more pear flavor to the cake, and it will save me time (because I won't have to peel and core the pears myself). I'll also try it will the custard too - just to see if it makes it better, although I'm not sure how you can improve on this one.
I'm pretty proud of this one! I hope you guys like it too. - Remember to trim your cake tops if you want a pretty cake! :)

Here's the recipe:

Pears Belle Helen Cake

1 box cake mix (white, yellow, or French vanilla flavor)
2 tsp vanilla extract (only 1 tsp if using French vanilla cake mix)
1 can of pear halves in pear juice OR 4 bosc pears peeled, halved and cored
sweetened whipped cream
sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. Slice the pears and place into the bottom of a greased 9x13 or 2 9x9 cake pans. Prepare the boxed cake mix, using the pear juice instead of water and adding the vanilla extract (if using fresh pears, just use water). Spread the cake batter evenly over the pears and bake in 350F oven for the recommended time on the box. (My 2 9x9 pans were done after 30 minutes.) Cool 20 minutes and trim the top of the cake to be flat. Invert the cake so the pears are now on top. Slice and serve with the whipped cream, chocolate sauce and sliced almonds. *Option - stack the completely cooled 9x9 cakes with a vanilla custard or pastry cream in the middle. Then top with the whipped cream, chocolate sauce and sliced almonds when ready to serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment