Pear-Glazed Chardonel Cake and Toasted Pistachios With Vanilla Ice Cream

Pear-Glazed Chardonel Cake
pear-glazed chardonel cake photo by jonathan s. pollack

The glaze can be made a day ahead of time. To make perfect individual servings, bake the cakes in ramekins.


White cake mix
4 cups Bethlehem Valley Chardonel, divided
5 or 6 small ripe pears
8 whole cloves
4 2-inch strips of lemon peel
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 cinnamon sticks, cracked
1 to 2 Tbsp. sugar, depending on your sweetness preference
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, whole or coarsely chopped
Vanilla ice cream
Seasonal fruit (optional)
Seasonal herbs such as lavender, mint or rosemary (optional)


• Preheat the oven according the cake mix\'s directions.

• Prepare the cake mix according to the package, substituting 1 cup of Chardonel for 1 cup of water. Be sure to grease and flour the pan, and put parchment on the bottom. Bake as directed.

• Adjust the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

• Peel, core and halve the pears. Place in a saucepan.

• Add 3 cups of Chardonel, the cloves, lemon peel, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

• Cover with parchment or waxed paper, and simmer for 25 minutes (less if the pears are really ripe). Remove the pears from the pan and reserve them for later enjoyment.

• Reduce the liquid by one half to about 2/3 cup. Slightly cool the liquid and strain it through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir the butter into the warm reduction until melted.

• Add the powdered sugar in 1/3-cup increments until a smooth, thin glaze results. Set aside.

• Toast the pistachios in the oven for 15 minutes until dry and toasty tasting. Shake and check them frequently.

• Plate a slice of the cake or an individual cakelet. Spoon the pear glaze over the cake. (The glaze can also be pooled under each serving.) Drop the pistachios on top and snuggle some vanilla ice cream close by. Decorate the plate with seasonal fruit and herbs.