Pretzel-Crusted Flourless Chocolate Cake with Sauteed Spiced Pears and Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Yield : 8 to 12 servings
  • Cook Time : 30m
  • Ready In : 15m
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  • 2 cups mini pretzels
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 pieces dark chocolate-covered caramel candy, cut into quarters
  • 1 pound semisweet coverture chocolate pistoles
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon star anise powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large pears, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon French brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • Sweetened whipped cream, flavored with a little brandy, for serving


Step 1

For the pretzel crust: In a food processor, pulse the pretzels, sugar and butter together until nearly as fine as graham cracker crumbs.

Step 2

Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment and press the pretzel crumbs into the base.

Step 3

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Step 4

Once cooled, scatter the caramel pieces over the top and set aside

Step 5

For the flourless chocolate cake: Adjust the oven to 425 degrees F.

Step 6

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over medium heat.

Step 7

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until they reach medium peaks.

Step 8

Add the sugar and whip to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks and whip for two minutes.

Step 9

Fold in the chocolate mixture in three stages, being careful not to deflate the batter.

Step 10

Pour the batter into the pretzel crust, and bake for 15 minutes. When done, the center should feel slightly bouncy, but an inserted cake tester should come out like a moist brownie batter.

Step 11

Allow the cake to cool overnight before unmolding.

Step 12

For the spice blend: In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, ginger and star anise until well blended. Set aside.

Step 13

For the sauteed pears: In a saute pan over medium heat, saute the pears until slightly translucent.

Step 14

Add the sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of the spice blend, and cook until the pears are tender and their juices slightly thickened. Allow to cool before use.

Step 15

For the salted caramel sauce: In a large pot, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and salt. Cook until the mixture acquires a nice amber color, indicating it has reached the caramel stage (325 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Remove from the heat.

Step 16

Gently heat the cream in the microwave, then add it slowly to the caramel (be very careful¿the mixture will bubble up!).

Step 17

Once all cream is added, stir in the butter. Taste and season with more salt if necessary. Let cool.

Step 18

To finish: Top the cake with sauteed pears and pour caramel over. Chill until the caramel sets.

Step 19

Serve with brandy-flavored sweetened whipped cream.

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