Sticky Ginger Cake with Caramelized Pears

Liz O'Connell

Great Harbor Yacht Club, Nantucket, MA

This cake is perfect for the end of an elegant holiday meal.


Ginger Cake:

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup chopped dried dates
  • 1/4 cup peeled and sliced ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum

Caramelized Pears:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into eights
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Whipped cream for serving


To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a simmer. Add the dates and ginger and simmer for 10 minutes, until the dates are soft. Remove and discard the ginger slices and blend the dates and water with an immersion blender until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla and baking soda and reserve.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Sift together the remaining dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the reserved date purée.

Grease the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin with butter. Pour the batter into the cups, filling them three quarters of the way full. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around each cake and carefully invert the muffin tin to release the cakes.

To make the glaze, add the brown sugar, cream, butter, and rum to a small saucepan. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.

To make the pears, combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the pear slices and cook, turning the pears occasionally, until the sugar becomes amber in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat and carefully stir in the cream. Continue cooking until thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

To serve, dip the bottoms of the cakes in the glaze and place them glazed side up on individual plates. Top each cake with caramelized pears and whipped cream.


12 servings