For the poached pears:
2 cups apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
3 small pears, peeled (cored from the bottom up, if desired)
For the cake:
1/2 cup raw pecan halves
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
For the maple pecan caramel:
3/4 cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup coconut cream
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup pecan pieces (toasted preferably, see notes below)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- To make the poached pears: Place the cider, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a smaller saucepan with steep sides and bring to a boil. Add the pears, stem up, and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until pears are tender. Remove the pears and place on a paper towel to soak up extra liquid. Discard the poaching liquid or enjoy it as a hot apple cider while you finish the cake.
- To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a large loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the molasses and beat until mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition until fully combined. Add the vanilla and beat until mixed.
- In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.
- Add about half of the dry mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Add the yogurt, mixing in until just combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix in until just combined. The mixture will be very thick. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top.
- Carefully press the poached pears down into the batter, in a line (make sure that each pear is fully submerged in the batter, except for the tops, and that the pears do not touch the sides of the pan).
- Line the exposed portion of the batter on the top of the pan with the pecan halves.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and up to 1 hour 10 minutes. Insert a tester into the cake to make sure it is cooked through.
- To make the maple pecan caramel: In a saucepan, add the maple syrup and bring to a boil. Let cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the maple syrup starts to caramelize and turn a deeper amber color. As soon as this happens, add the coconut cream, salt, and butter to the pan. Mixture will sputter and seize – continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes and it will melt back down. When the caramel is smooth and thick, remove from heat. Stir in the pecan pieces and vanilla.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat before using.
- To serve: Serve the cake warm with the caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.
To toast the pecan pieces – lay pecan pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees on the top rack of the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until they become lightly browned and nutty smelling. Watch carefully, as they can easily burn. Remove from oven and let cool.
If this cake is not eaten right away, store tightly wrapped in the fridge so that the pears do not make the cake soggy. This cake is best eaten warm, with the warm caramel drizzles on each slice. To reheat – microwave for about 20 seconds and cake will become pillow soft again.