While most pears eaten in the UK are conference, there are more varieties appearing on the market: long and shapely; green and freckled; broad with golden, rough skin. Pears are often picked green in the autumn, then stored to eat throughout the winter.

With a complex flavour, pears, when ripe, are highly perfumed, turning sweet and juicy to eat. Matched with chocolate, they are unbeatable. The rye flour in this recipe also lends a nutty profile that flatters both pear and chocolate.


  • 2 Small ripe pears, peeled, cut in half and core removed 
  • ½ Lemon, juiced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 250g Soft light brown sugar
  • 125g Butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 200g Dark chocolate, small pieces 
  • 3 Eggs, beaten
  • 3tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 100g Rye flour, or spelt or plain flour


  • STEP 1

    In a medium saucepan, cover the pears with cold water, add the lemon juice, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Bring the pan gently to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are easily pierceable with a skewer or knife (8–10 mins). Remove from the heat and leave the pears to cool, then slice into quarters and discard the liquid, keeping the bay leaves.

  • STEP 2

    Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 20cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.

  • STEP 3

    Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or microwave, on low) gently stirring every now and then.

  • STEP 4

    Beat the eggs and sugar together using an electric mixer, then fold in the cocoa powder and rye flour. Carefully stir in the melted chocolate and butter – don’t over-mix. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

  • STEP 5

    Arrange the poached pear slices decoratively on top of the brownie mix. Add the bay leaves. Bake in the hot oven for 20–25 mins, or until the surface is just about firm to the touch and some cracks have appeared at the edge of the brownie – you want it gooey.

  • STEP 6

    Cool in the tin, then cut into squares to serve.


Claire Thomson is a chef and food writer, and almost always in the kitchen.