As we head into the holiday season, it's time to bake up all things spiced and cozy. This spiced chocolate pear cake is made from a rich, super chocolate-y spiced cake, topped with fresh pears and a crunchy hazelnut streusel. It's the perfect cake for breakfast, or as a delicious alternative to pie on your holiday dessert table!
In a few words, this spiced chocolate cake is:
- Full of chocolate flavor.
- Filled with soft, floral pears.
- Topped with crunchy spiced hazelnut streusel.
- Cozy and comforting
- The perfect cake for a holiday breakfast, brunch or casual dessert. Looking for another stunning cake that's perfect for birthdays and holidays? Check out my Matilda's Chocolate Cake.
What ingredients do I need to make this cake?
- All purpose flour
- Light brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground ginger
- Unsalted butter
- Cake flour
- Dutch process cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Canola, olive or other neutral oil
- Whole milk
- Sour cream
- Chocolate hazelnut spread
From these ingredients you will make the spiced chocolate pear cake, the spiced hazelnut streusel and optional chocolate hazelnut drizzle.
What baking tools do I need to make this streusel topped chocolate cake?
- A whisk, spoon or flexible spatula and several mixing bowls
- 9 in (23cm) springfrom pan
- This is the preferred pan for this cake as it makes removing the cake from the pan much easier.
- Or use a 9X9 pan lined with parchment paper along at least two sides instead.
- Parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan.
- Alternatively, it helps to lift the cake from the pan if using a square pan.
- Vegetable peeler or small knife for peeling and slicing pears.
- Food thermometer a good way to check the doneness of the cake.
Natural cocoa powder vs. dutch process cocoa powder
Does it even matter? Yes, the difference lies in the way the unsweetened powders are prepared.
- Natural unsweetened cocoa powder: This is basically ground up cocoa beans. Natural cocoa powder is acidic and bitter. It is considered an acid, which means it is often used in recipes that call for baking powder (a base). This creates a reaction and allows the baked good to rise.
- Dutch process cocoa powder: This is ground up cocoa beans that have been washed in alkaline solution of potassium carbonate. This neutralizes the beans. Meaning, they will not reaction with baking soda. Therefore, its best to use this when baking a recipe with baking powder. This powder is darker in color and more mellow in flavor.
- Black cocoa powder: This is cocoa powder that has been heavily dutched. It has a very strong flavor, but due to the dutch process, it is not bitter. It is very dark in color. For this reason, its most often used as a color booster with dutch process cocoa.
Tips and tricks for a perfectly delicious spiced pear cake:
Best substitutions for this recipe:
- All purpose flour: for a gluten free option, I recommend
- Cake flour: make a DIY version using all purpose and cornstarch
- See recipe notes for how to do this.
- To make a GF cake flour, sub with one of the listed subs above and follow the notes in the recipe to make it cake flour.
- Pears: we are currently in prime pear season, but the pears could be substitued with figs, blackberries, raspberries or cranberries.
- Espresso, ground cinnamon and ginger: These are all flavor enhancers.
- I highly recommend using all if you can. If not, you can easily use all cinnamon or all ginger.
- Omit the instant espresso powder if you need to.
- Sugar: Use an alternative sugar if its one you baked with already. I LOVE using maple sugar
- Hazelnuts: Feel free to use almost any nut in it's place.
- Have a nut allergy? You can also completely omit the nuts in the streusel.
Tips and tricks for this spiced chocolate pear cake:
- Read through the recipe before starting.
- Use a “light hand” when folding the ingredients together.
- Look for the signs the cake is done rather than stick strictly to the baking times.
- The sides will pull gently from the edges of the pan.
- If it looks wet, the cake will need to bake another 10-20 minutes.
- The top will be golden brown, but not burned.
- A toothpick inserted into the center will come out with a few moist crumbs.
- If it's “gummy” with a few crumbs, it needs about 5-10 more minutes.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for no more than 30 minutes.
- Cool the cake out of the pan to room temperature on a cooling rack.
- Enjoy the cake as it or drizzle with warmed chocolate hazelnut spread. I highly recommend the drizzle!
other delicious chocolate treats to try!
- red wine brownies
- no bake brownies (vegan)
- small chocolate cake
- chocolate olive oil loaf cake
- citrus olive oil brownies
- chocolate fig loaf cake
- triple chocolate lavender brownies
- tahini swirl olive oil brownies
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spiced chocolate pear cake with hazelnut streusel
- 9" (23cm) springform pan
- parchment paper
- large mixing bowl with whisk and spoon or flexible spatula
- knife and cutting board
spiced hazelnut streusel
- 1 c (120g) all purpose flour
- ½ c (100g) light brown sugar
- ½ c (75g) roughly chopped hazelnuts
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 6 tbsp (85g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
spiced chocolate cake
- 1 c (120g) all purpose flour
- ½ c (60g) cake flour see recipe notes
- ½ c (46g) dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ c (118ml) canola, olive or other neutral oil
- 1 c (200g) granulated sugar
- ¼ c (50g) light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ⅓ c (79ml) whole milk, room temperature
- ⅓ c (82g) full fat sour cream, room temperature
- 2-3 ripe, but still firm pears peeled, cored and sliced
- ⅓ c (99g) chocolate hazelnut spread, warmed
spiced hazelnut streusel
- Whisk together the dry ingredients for the streusel topping in a small mixing bowl. Work in the cubes of butter until the mixture comes together. The mixture should resemble coarse pieces of sand, with some larger pieces mixed in. Set the bowl in the fridge to chill while preparing the chocolate cake.
spiced chocolate cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Line a 9" (23cm) springform pan with parchment paper, along the bottom. Lightly grease the sides of the pan. Set aside.
- In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, cake flour, dutch process cocoa powder, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and salt. Set aside.
- Using a whisk, whisk together oil, sugars and eggs together until smooth well combined.
- Stir in the dry ingredients, milk and sour cream to the wet, alternating in this order: dry, sour cream dry, milk, dry. Leave a few flour or liquid streaks before adding the next .
- Pour batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top of the batter. Top with sliced pears.
- Top the batter with the chilled streusel topping. Feel free to clump pieces together for larger crumbles or scatter smaller pieces over the top of the batter. Gently press the streusel into the cake batter and pears.
- Bake at 350 F (177C) for 50-60 minutes. Around 45 minutes, do the first check of the cake. Check to make sure the struesel isn't burning. If the top is browning too much, place a tent foil over the top for the remainder of the time. Bake an additional 5 minutes before checking for doneness. The edges of the cake will have pulled slighly from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. If the toothpick comes out wet or "gummy," check every 5-10 until done.
- Remove the spiced chocolate pear cake from the oven to cool in the pan for 20-25 minutes. Gently loosen the side of the springform pan. Remove the ring and allow the cake to cool to room temperature.
- Top with a drizzle of warm chocolate hazelnut spread, slice and enjoy!