Pears baked in Moscatel with hazelnut cake

Pears baked in Moscatel with hazelnut cake

Diana Henry's recipe uses Moscatel but you can use a different alcohol if you wish and it will just just as good. Serve with lashings of crème fraîche.

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  • Serves6
  • CourseDessert
  • Prepare30 mins
  • Cook1 hr 15 mins
  • Total time1 hr 45 mins
  • Pluscooling

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For the cake

  • butter, for greasing
  • 350g blanched hazelnuts
  • 5 British Blacktail Free Range Medium Eggs, separated
  • 175g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted but still slightly warm
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest
  • Icing sugar, to serve

For the pears

  • 6 pears (Conference work well)
  • 500ml bottle Lustau Moscatel de Alejandria (or another dessert or fortified wine)
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, juice of all, zest of ½ (use a zester tool)
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 125g light brown soft sugar
  • Crème fraîche, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Butter a 23cm diameter round, 5cm deep cake tin, then line the base with baking parchment. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan for 3-4 minutes until golden in places. Cool completely.

  2. Whizz the hazelnuts in a food processor until fine but with some coarser bits. Use the pulse button, as nuts can become sticky and oily if processed too fast.

  3. Put the egg whites into a large clean bowl and the yolks in another. Add 175g caster sugar to the yolks and beat with an electric hand mixer until pale and doubled in volume. Beat in the vanilla. Wash the beaters well.

  4. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add 1 tbsp caster sugar to the whites and beat again. Fold ⅓ of the whites into the egg yolk mixture, followed by ½ the ground hazelnuts. Fold in the next ⅓ of the whites and the remaining hazelnuts. Add the remaining whites and quickly fold in the butter and lemon zest.

  5. Scrape the batter into the cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes. Check for doneness by putting a skewer into the centre of the cake. It should come out clean, with no batter clinging to it.

  6. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then run a fine knife between the cake and the tin. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. It will keep for a couple of days in a sealed box or tin, so you can make this well in advance.

  7. For the pears, turn the oven up a little to 190ºC, gas mark 5. Halve the pears lengthways, leaving the skin on and the core in or out as you wish. Arrange them, skin-side down, in a roasting tin or a gratin dish in which they can lie snugly in a single layer.

  8. Pour the Moscatel, lemon juice and 100ml water into the pan and arrange the lemon zest around and under the pears. Add the cinnamon stick. Sprinkle 100g soft sugar over and around the pears and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden and starting to shrivel a little at the edges. During the cooking process, spoon some of the juices over the pears.

  9. Spoon the juices over the pears 10 minutes before they are done, then sprinkle with the remaining soft sugar and return to the oven.

  10. Arrange the pears in a serving dish with the sauce and serve warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche and the hazelnut cake. Dust the cake with icing sugar just before serving.

Cook’s tip

You can actually cook these pears with Madeira, sherry or another dessert wine. I like this Moscatel as it’s a good price. 


Typical values per serving when made using specific products in recipe


3,969kJ/ 954kcals



Saturated Fat












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