Lidey Heuck, who, as Ina Garten’s assistant, manages the Barefoot Contessa’s media platforms and recipe testing in the Hamptons, prepared her Pear and Hazelnut Cake recipe for Wendy Wurtzburger and Chris Bentley’s fall party menu.
Wendy’s Pear and Hazelnut Cake
- 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 ripe Bosc pears
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts, finely ground in a food processor
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving (see note)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
- In a small sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-low heat and cook until golden brown flecks form all around the edges of the pan. Watch the butter carefully because it will burn quickly! Remove the pan from the heat and using a rubber spatula, scrape the browned butter into a small bowl to cool, making sure to scrape up all the brown bits.
- In a small bowl combine the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar and stir to combine. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cut pears in half through the stem. Trim the stems and carefully core the pears with a melon baller or teaspoon. Cut two 1/2-inch thick slices (lengthwise) from each half so you end up with 4 slices from each pear. Artfully arrange the pears, cut sides down, on top of the butter mixture.
- In a small bowl, combine the ground hazelnuts, flour and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until the egg whites form firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the browned butter, then the nut/flour mixture, until just combined. Transfer the batter to the pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is lightly browned around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool for five minutes and then carefully invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with unsweetened whipped cream.
Note: To make unsweetened whipped cream, whip 1 cup cold heavy cream with ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in large mixing bowl using a hand mixer. Whip until just firm and serve immediately.
Photography by Alison Conklin