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Speculaas Spice Pear-Nog Cake with Mascarpone Whip and Caramelized Pears

This insanely delicious pear-nog spice cake can be made just as a snack cake. The cake gains flavor and moisture for up to 5 days. The cake itself can be stored on the counter while the mascarpone whip and caramelized pears are refrigerated. Recipe and photography by A Merry Recipe.

Pear-Nog Cake:

  • 2 medium USA Bartlett Pears, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup eggnog, as instructed
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Speculaas spice blend, or see spice blend recipe below
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger, 6 large pieces for garnish
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

Speculaas Spice Blend:

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves

Caramelized Pears:

  • 5 medium USA Bartlett Pears, peeled, cored
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Speculaas spice blend or remaining homemade
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Make-Ahead Mascarpone Whip:

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, on counter 15 minutes
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

To make cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with parchment paper, and butter the bottom and sides. I use an aluminized steel pan.

Combine USA Bartlett pears and 1/2 cup eggnog in a blender bowl; blend until smooth puree. Add enough eggnog to equal 1 3/4 cup pear-nog. Add vanilla extract; set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine flour, 1 tablespoon Speculaas spice blend, 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment, combine butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Add 1 egg at a time, beating after each addition, and scraping the bowl.

Adjust mixer speed to low, and slowly alternate 1/4 of the pear-nog and 1/4 of the flour mixture, at a time. Beat batter until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center of the cake.

Cool on baker’s rack. Run a knife along the pan’s inside to release cake from pan, if needed. Invert cake onto a cutting board. Cut 12 single serving portions with a 3-inch circular or square cutter or with a 4-inch cutting ring form 6 “pair-cake” portions for two people to share.

To make caramelized pears: Prepare caramelized pears while the cake is baking. Chop 5 USA Bartlett pears into 1-inch pieces and place in a large pot. Add lemon juice, remaining Speculaas spice blend, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover, stirring occasionally, cook over low heat until cake has cooled, about 40 minutes.

To make mascarpone whip cream: In a cold bowl of a standing mixer, beat mascarpone, on medium low speed. Slowly pour in heavy cream, and beat until mascarpone is well incorporated into cream. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon, and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. The mascarpone whip will be stable in the refrigerator for several days.

To assemble: Place individual cakes on serving dishes and pipe or dollop mascarpone whip cream on top. Spoon caramelized pears over whip and along the sides of the cake. Garnish with a sliver of crystalized ginger jetting from the mascarpone whip.

Serves: 6 pairs or 12 individual servings

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