- 180g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
- 180g caster sugar
- 3 medium free-range eggs
- 200g ground almonds
- 250g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
For the poached pears
- 250g caster sugar
- 4 conference pears, peeled, stalks left on
- To poach the pears, put 1.5 litres cold water and the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and stir to make sure the sugar has fully dissolved. Slice off the round ends of the pears so they have a flat base to stand on when they’re in the cake tin. Lower them into the hot syrup, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain and pat dry. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy using an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the ground almonds and beat until incorporated.
- Melt the dark chocolate on low power in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through and taking care not to burn the chocolate (you can also do this in a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of steaming water). Add the melted chocolate to the cake batter, stirring until mixed in, then pour the batter into a greased 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
- Gently push the pears into the batter, evenly spaced, so they stand upright in the tin, then bake for 40 minutes. (The middle of the torte should still be gooey like a brownie but the outside will be firmer.)
- Remove the tin from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing the cake from the tin. Cool for a further 15-20 minutes, then slice while still warm and serve with ice cream. The torte is also good at room temperature.
- For an adult brownie, add a splash of amaretto or rum to the batter or into the poaching liquid for the pears.
- Poach the pears up to 2 days in advance, then keep chilled in the cooking syrup in a jar or sealed container.
The torte will keep for up to 48 hours in a sealed container somewhere cool, or in the fridge.