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This may be considered blasphemy, but my favourite cake is no longer the humble chocolate cake. I use to love love love chocolate mud cake – from Safeway, from the Cheesecake Shop – you name it, I love it and could eat a whole one all at once if my conscience allowed me to. I loved the rich taste of the cocoa and the sweet, sticky icing. This isn’t to say that I no longer like chocolate cake, but I’ve discovered that recently, my tastebuds have *ahem* matured and nowadays, I prefer fruit filled cakes, because I love the natural sweetness that the fruit imparts and also the texture of the broken down fruit that’s been baked for an hour.

This is the reason why I was a little cautious about making a chocolate pear cake. I lke chocolate, and I like pears, but at the time, I just didn’t really feel like eating a chocolate pear cake. However, I haven’t tried making a chocolate pear anything before so I decided to make it anyway, because it sounded like a sophisticated combintation. Do you find that pears have have a tendency to upgrade something really ordinary to something that sounds really fancy – like rocket and walnut salad with caramelised pear, or Roast pork with pear compote? Thinking about those makes me feel hungry.

Well, I sure didn’t regret it! This was super tasty, and I’m thinking of ways how to give it a more prominent pear flavour. If you like chocolate cakes that are still fudgey in the middle, this is for you. I used 2 pears, but the cake didn’t have any pear flavour at all, I think the chocolate overpowered it. I’ll put down the proportions I used, but feel free to play around until you get a good balance of chocolate and pear – let me know what you come up with! I used Packenham pears, because that is my favourite brand (and they were handy) but I’m sure any pear would work. The linseed meal gives a grainy texture, so if you like a smoother texture, substitute the linseed meal with plain flour. My mum also commented that the cake could be a little sweeter, so up the sugar to 1 cup if you are a sweet tooth. Personally, I prefer it not too sweet, and if you are serving this for dessert, the rich cocoa taste would be offset wonderfully with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Chocolate Pear Cake
Makes 1 Cake

1 1/4 cup linseed meal
1/2 cup Sr Flour (I used wholemeal)
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup EVOO
2 pears (cored and chopped into medium sized peieces)
100g dark chocolate (melted) (I used 50% cocoa, but you can substitute milk chocolate if that is your preference)

1. Preheat oven to moderately high at 170c. Line a 24cm round spring form tin with baking paper.
2. Sift linseed meal, flour, baking powder and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
3. Beat eggs lightly in a separate bowl and pour into flour mixture. Add pears and chocolate and stir until just combined.
4. Pour mixture into tin and bake for 45 minutes. Remember not to over cake it if you want the cake to be moist inside. Cake is cooked when skewer comes out clean.

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Ever since I saw the chocolate cherry cupcake recipe in Nigella Lawson’s The Domestic Goddess, I’ve wanted to make my own healthy version – who am I kidding, how can chocolate be healthy? For those who have been reading my previous posts, you will notice that I seem to have an aversion to butter. Let me come clean: I have nothing against butter – I love my crossaints and pastries, but I work in a sedentary job 5 days a week and my exercise consists of walking half an hour or so per day. This is obviously not a good combination, which is the reason I try to follow a healthier diet. This also allows me to experiment using different grains, nuts and seeds in my baking, which is perfectly suited to my cooking habits, because I never follow a recipe to a tee.  
Instead of cupcakes, I made a loaf – because loaves are so much healtheir than cupcakes, am I correct? The recipe that I based my version on called for oats, so I did include it, but I won’t be doing that soon again – when incorporated with the wholemeal flour, it made the loaf very dry and crumbly. I used Coles brand dark cooking chocolate, which turned out quite well, but milk chocolate would work just as well. From Nigella’s comments about the cherry jam, it seems to be difficult to find in Great Britain, but luckily for us, the cherry jam was quite easy to find, and I used Bonne Maman cherry jam.

You will notice that this is a similar recipe to the Berry linseed loaf , and I am using it again, because it uses only one bowl, which means less cleaning afterwards!

Chocolate and Cherry Loaf
Makes 1 medium sized loaf

1/2 cup EVOO
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup soy milk (regular milk is fine)
1 1/2 cup SR Flour
100g dark chocolate (melted)
1/2 cup cherry jam

1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line the base and sides of a loaf pan with baking paper.
2. Mix all ingredients together.
3. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested.

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