We incorporate a full bottle of Dolce Napa Valley into the recipe for this bountiful Pear Vineyard Cake, which absolutely makes it our new favorite holiday indulgence. And the fact that we put our late harvest wine in the cake doesn’t stop us from enjoying a glass of Dolce right alongside it!
Dolce-Infused Pear Vineyard Cake
Wine: Dolce Napa Valley
For the vineyard cake:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
¾ cup butter, room temp
1/3 cup grapeseed oil (substitution: olive oil)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (approximately two lemons)
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (approximately one orange)
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (alternative: the seeds of one vanilla bean)
1 ¾ cups Dolce Napa Valley
1 cup balled or diced Asian pear; ¼ inch x ¼ inch
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup diced pear
Optional Day-Dreamy Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:
14 ounces cream cheese
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
For the cakes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease individual four-ounce ramekins or aluminum tins with pan spray.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
Add your sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Add butter and grapeseed oil; beat for two minutes. Add vanilla, orange and lemon zests and combine. Incorporate eggs on low speed, one at a time. Scrape down sides and continue to mix. Add half of your flour mixture combine before adding ½ the Dolce. Add your remaining flour and Dolce and combine until smooth. You do not want lumps. Fill your prepared cake tins or ramekins 1/3 of the way. An ice cream scoop comes in handy for the filling process. Top with pears, and don’t be alarmed if they sink in while baking. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges turn a slight golden-brown.
For the sugar crust: While the individual cakes bake, mix remaining butter & sugar in a bowl, using a wooden spoon to combine. Add remaining pear to the butter. After the cakes have baked for ten minutes, remove from oven and top each with your butter-pear mixture. Warning: it will be messy, but adding the pear-butter mix to the top of each cake is easiest when you use your fingers! Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and return cakes to the oven and allow to cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until each takes on a golden-brown top and a toothpick or skewer comes out clean.
For the [Optional] Day-Dreamy Maple Cream Cheese Frosting: “There are two secrets to the magic of this sauce, and one of them is Maldon salt. The other? Well, when it’s done right, it’s whipped until it’s as fluffy and light as soft rain clouds.” Far Niente Chef Sarah Walz
You absolutely need room temperature butter to achieve maximum fluffiness. Using the paddle attachment on your electric mixer, whip on high speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and mix again, as you want the butter to be silky smooth before adding the cream cheese. Add cream cheese and combine on high until evenly combined. Add maple and molasses and mix fully on medium speed. Scrap down the sides, add crème fraiche and combine. Taste. Please note that in order to balance the Dolce-sweetness of the vineyard cake, this maple frosting is not overly sweet.
To serve: Remove each vineyard cake from its ramekin or mold and assemble on a serving platter. Pipe or quenelle an elegant oblong tablespoon of frosting atop each cake. A sprinkle a pinch of flaky Maldon salt brings an extra note of balance to this heavenly dessert. Pair with a chilled glass of Dolce and toast the wintry close to another interesting year!
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