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Icy Troll-Hair Pond + Gingerbread Pear Cakes

I took a beginner class called “Paint Your Own Replica of Monet’s Waterlilies” at the art museum last weekend.  I was supposed to make an iconic painting of a pond while drinking wine and eating cheese cubes.  It was supposed to be relaxing.

I was doing a bang-up job until the painters on either side of me started flirting shamelessly with each other.  It got downright dirty up in there– dirtier than anything I’ve seen in an art museum, and that includes the time I saw body casts of naked dudes covered in silver paint and real human hair at a gallery in Chelsea.

So when it seemed like this guy was going to throw cocktail peanuts down her shirt, I started stress-painting.  I added trees and reeds and snow all over the place, and I got the hell out of there.  I had to get up early to go to the Talladega 500 anyway, and at that point NASCAR seemed like the tamer option.

I brought home an artwork Scott likes to call Winter at Icy Troll-Hair Pond, with Geyser(s).

I have to say that if I were the type who picked up a lady friend at art class and brought her home to dinner with my momma, I would want to end the evening with these delicious gingerbread pear cakes.  Their night probably wasn’t as wholesome as all that, but I am trying not to think about it.  In fact, I am actively trying to re-establish the cosmic balance of wholesomeness that they ruined.

I think we can return to equilibrium if I make Thunder wear this wholesome Martha Stewart doggie sweater for one hour.

But if fifteen minutes is all I get before she goes Pac-Man on it, that’ll do.

These gingerbread pear cakes are adapted from a recipe for a blueberry gingerbread buckle (like a doughy cobbler) in Linda Zimmerman & Peggy Mellody’s Cobblers, Crumbles & Crisps.

The gingerbread is moist and rich, and the pears melt in your mouth.  This dessert takes about 15 minutes of prep time and the gingerbread aroma lingers for hours.  The whole thing is instant holiday goodness in your house, people.  If you mess up the inversion of the ramekin when you’re serving them, or if you don’t have ramekins, it won’t look bad to serve the pears jumbled in with the cake.  I made another batch in a 8×8 inch pan and scooped the cake out to serve it, and it was just as good.

Gingerbread Pear Cakes


4 pears (I used yellow bartletts, but this website is helpful if you’ve got a different kind and want to see if it’s good for baking)

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter + several small pats

1/2 c. brown sugar (packed)

1 egg

1/2 c. strong brewed coffee

1/2 c. molasses

1 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp.  flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1 tbsp. grated lemon zest (I’d get 3-4 lemons)

2 tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger

vanilla ice cream (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream 1/2 c. butter (1 stick) and the 1/2 c. brown sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy.

Beat in the 1 egg, then the coffee and molasses.

In a separate bowl, combine all the flour, the 1 tsp. baking soda, the 1/4 tsp. salt, the 1 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. allspice and 1 tbsp. lemon zest, and the 2 tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger.

Stir the flour mixture into the bowl containing the wet ingredients.

For individual desserts, place a pat of butter (no more than 1/4 inch thick) in each ramekin and place ramekins in the oven for about 2 minutes until butter is melted.  Remove ramekins from the oven and place about 4 slices of pear flush on the buttered bottom of each ramekin.   Pour batter into the ramekins, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of room because the buckles will rise.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched.

Let ramekins cool for a few minutes, then work around the edges with a knife.  Put a serving plate on the top of each ramekin and invert.  Carefully lift the ramekin, (ideally) leaving the cake on the plate, with the pears  face-up.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

For one large dessert, melt 4 tbsp. butter in an 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan or large ramekin so that butter coats the bottom.  Place pear slices flush on the bottom of the dish, no more than 2 slices deep.  Pour batter on top of the pears and cook for 35-45 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.

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Let cool for a few minutes.  Spoon the cake onto serving plates and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. 1) Thunder looks awesome in that sweater.
    2) Winter at Icy Troll-Hair Pond, with Geyser(s) will, in all likelihood, fetch millions of dollars one day. You’ll be dead though. Art always goes up in value when the artist dies.

    October 27, 2011
    • Well said. But in a vain attempt to become a famous artist in my lifetime, I am considering contracting syphilis, marrying my cousin, drinking too much and cutting off Scott’s ear. The whole nine yards. I am open to additional suggestions, of course.

      October 27, 2011
  2. emmalina73 #

    This pear cake makes me want to marry you, but not in an art class kind of way, more in a ‘hey let’s bake and talk about why the impressionists were cool even though they were all mainly addicted to drugs and prostitutes which isn’t that wholesome when you think about it way’. Maybe we should just focus on the cake, art is such a minefield.

    October 27, 2011
    • Emmalina,
      As you are quite possibly the love of my life (I mean, one can never know, can one?), I just have to tell you that Rimbaud had a pet lobster that he walked around Paris on a leash. I feel we would discuss over pear cake and tea.

      October 27, 2011
  3. Um, are you guys cheating on me?

    October 28, 2011
    • Of course not. I need you–you are the only one with the crock pot. But collectively we may be on the market for a lobster handler.

      October 28, 2011
  4. How can the recipe take 15 minutes to prep? It took 15 minutes to READ! 🙂 But it looks wonderful, and I will do it, and I only have one real exception to offer: vanilla ice cream is not optional anywhere, anyhow. Nuh-UH.

    October 29, 2011
    • Hi Cindy! Ok, if you try it, let me know how long it takes to prep– sometimes I am a little loose with the prep time because I have calculated it after the fact, based on how many songs I listened to while cooking. 🙂 I agree with you that vanilla ice cream is a deal breaker. Life is short.

      October 29, 2011
  5. Burgie #

    Just read the recipe and want to make it for my next dinner party, how many ramekins are needed or how many servings will a whole cake yield?

    July 23, 2013

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