Ms Maclaine and My Pear and Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Passionfruit Ganache

The first time I ever came across Shirley Maclaine was as a sassy, smart talking, lady of questionable repute in ‘Sweet Charity’ and of course, I LOVED her.

Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo.  Why couldn't I be just like Shirley?
Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo. Why couldn’t I be just like Shirley?

Julia Roberts may have caused an uproar about morally questionable role models in the ’90s, but way before then, my poor Mum really didn’t know what to do with her little primary school child wanting to be Shirley Maclaine and questioning why it was a bad idea to wear fish net stockings and get a tattoo!

Well, fast forward many years later, after I had worn my share of fish net stockings, have had my hair long, short and shaved, and tattoos are the accepted norm;   I fell in love with the indomitable Ms Maclaine all over again, when I found this quote in one of my recipe books;

LOVE that Ms Maclaine :)
LOVE that Ms Maclaine 🙂
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!

Love it….love being able to play with chocolate cake and even more so when I pick up inspiration from fresh or home-grown produce.

So, in my grand tradition of walking into a shop and picking up ‘stuff’ that looks good, I found myself surrounded by mountains of Bartlett pears and, believe it or not, some great looking passionfruit!   Pears are a mainstay of cold weather but passionfruit?  From New South Wales, what’s more, so we are talking passionfruit in the middle of winter…I am guessing hot-house, but hey, my taste buds were talking, I was going to make an exception today 🙂

Bartletts are not my choice for eating straight up, that sweet, sticky juice, running generously through your fingers, as you try not to make a single handed mess, which inevitably turns into a double fisted, wet, napkin soaked drama; ending in a limp, and soggy mess with an urgent need to find a running tap!

Ha ha, maybe the Bartlett pears I am trying to eat for lunch are just too ripe, but for a dessert or a cake, they are my absolute favourites.  Suddenly all those sad and sorry, downfalls are in fact, the attributes that make them perfect!  Soft and melting, sweetly blessed with juice that flows and flavours everything that it comes in touch with, permeating with a fragrant, slightly caramel aroma that is unmistakable.

That's what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of...cake!
That’s what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of…cake!

I wanted to pair (no pun intended!) this luxurious texture and flavour of cooked pear with a lighter cake and decided on a buttermilk cake with just a hint of cocoa, to help the pear juice to be tasted through it.  The buttermilk gave the cake a slightly tangy flavour as well, which worked really nicely.

However, on its own, I have to say it was not a cake that had me jumping for joy, it definitely needed a little more.  Not exactly worthy of the  Hollywood aspirations of my childhood!

I decide that nothing tarts up a simple, wall flower of a cake, like a crowd pleasing 35% couverture ganache, but I wanted to lift it a little, so as to compliment the pear and to give it a little zing that even Charity would be proud of 🙂

Passionfruit in the middle of winter?  They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.
Passionfruit in the middle of winter? They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.

Please step in, passionfruit.  It may not be seasonal, it may not be home-grown but by stirring through the pulp of this little purple orb, and dribbling that thick and creamy chocolate concoction over my homely little cakes…yes, you guessed it; Bliss.

No, I know it is not Hollywood, walk of fame stuff, but served warm on a mid winters evening, I have to say this little cake makes me feel pretty sparkly, and special inside 🙂

Homely no more :)  A little white chocolate decoration gives my little cakes star treatment :)
Homely no more 🙂
A drizzled white chocolate piece, gives my little cakes the star treatment 🙂
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