I have been meaning to post this recipe since Thanksgiving, but just haven't had the time to sit down and do it. A friend of mine (Mimi Sue) made this cake for a church thing we had just prior to Thanksgiving and I instantly fell in love with it. I am not a lover of pears AT ALL but this cake is SOOOOO good. It was easy to make and the final product just looked pretty. I love food that looks pretty when it is all done. The cake is moist and delicious, but what truly seems to make the cake (I think and my mother-in-law agreed) is the caramel sauce. I made two of these to take to a family Thanksgiving dinner and those who tried it seemed to really like it.
1 (16-ounce) can pear halves in light syrup
1 package (1-lb 2.25-oz) pudding-included white cake mix (just the mix)
1/3 cup oil
3 egg whites
1 cup whipped cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (16-ounce) can pear halves in light syrup drained and cut however you like for garnishing purposes only.
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted (also for garnish)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup butter or margarine
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan. Drain pear halves, reserving 1/3 cup liquid. Place pear halves in food processor bowl with metal blade or blender container; process until smooth.
In large bowl, combine cake mix, pureed pears, reserved 1/3 cup pear liquid, oil and egg whites at low speed until moistened; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Pour into greased and floured pan.
Bake at 350°F. for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool upright in pan 15 minutes; invert onto serving plate. Cool completely.
In small bowl, beat 1 cup whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla. Frost cooled cake with whipped cream. Cut drained pear halves lengthwise into about 32 slices. Arrange on top of cake, slightly overlapping slices. Press nuts into sides of cake. Refrigerate until serving time.
In medium saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients; mix well. Bring to a boil. Boil over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.
To serve, spoon about 2 tablespoons sauce onto individual dessert plates. Place slice of cake on sauce. Store cake and sauce in refrigerator.
Note- Even though I am not a lover of pears, the garnish of pears on top of the cake really made the cake refreshing. That being said, I wouldn't skimp on the pears as the garnish even if you’re not a fan of pears. The natural but not over-powering sweetness of the pears is the perfect compliment to the caramel sauce. Also, when I made my caramel sauce, the store had been cleaned out of light brown sugar and so I had to use dark brown. Though it worked ok, I wouldn't recommend the dark as the molasses flavor was a little too strong.