This is a cross between pears belle Helene and Eve's pudding, but that's an irrelevance really. The only important thing to remember is that this is easy, quick, very comforting and seems to please absolutely everyone. It's not hard to make sure you always have what you need in the house to make this. And for hot days when baked sponge and sauce seems inappropriate, then bear in mind that tinned (or bottled) pears and chocolate sauce - with or without vanilla ice cream - make a lovely pudding/ dessert on their own. You can make your own chocolate sauce or buy one you like, obviously, but I have a complete storecupoard standby of a sauce which I make by heating together a 170g can/ three quarters of a cup evaporated milk, half a teaspoon instant espresso powder, 150g golden syrup/ half a cup of dark corn syrup and 100g dark chocolate, 70 percent minimum cocoa solids/ 3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate. The sponge itself does make a little bit of its own sauce, so if you really don't want to make some separately, just serve with chocolate ice cream. As with any baking, you really do want all ingredients at room temperature before you start.
- 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more, for greasing
- 2 (14-ounce) cans pear halves, in juice
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease an 8 1/2-inch square ovenproof dish with butter.
Drain the pears and arrange them on the base of the prepared dish. Put all the remaining ingredients in a processor and blitz until you have a batter with a soft dropping consistency.
Spread the brown batter over the pears, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 or 10 minutes and then cut into slabs - I cut 2 down and 2 across to make nine slices - and serve with chocolate sauce.