Little Pear Cakes

The pears can be poached a day ahead.

Pears: 6 small pears eg honey belle
2 tablespoons lemon juice
350ml late harvest riesling or similar
Cakes: 1/2 cup sugar
125g butter, chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
3 large eggs
250g ground almonds
1/2 cup plain flour or gluten-free baking mix
pinch salt

Peel the pears leaving the stems intact. Using a small melon baller, remove the cores from the base. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Bring the wine to the boil. Add the pears. Cover and poach for 20 minutes, carefully turning twice during cooking. Remove to a bowl. Boil the liquid rapidly, until reduced. Pour over the pears. Cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly butter and flour six, 1-cup ramekins or #2 soufflé dishes. Shake out any excess flour. Place in a baking pan.

To make the cake, place the sugar and butter in a food processor and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla. With the motor running, add the eggs one at a time. Pulse in the ground almonds, flour or baking mix and salt. Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins, about a generous 1/2 cup in each. Pat the pears dry then nestle a pear in each ramekin, pressing it lightly into the batter.
Bake for about 30 minutes in the middle of the oven, rotating the pan after 15 minutes. Cook until golden. Transfer the ramekins to a board to cool.

To serve, run a thin knife around the edge and upturn. Place right side up on serving plates. Great served warm or at room temperature with plain yoghurt or ice cream. Serves 6.


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