This week something new and something blue arrived in my kitchen for a coffee challenge. My task was to use this DeLonghi coffee machine – called the Vintage Icona Bar Pump Espresso Machine to create a coffee-inspired recipe. So, with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee to hand, I set about creating a perfect afternoon treat and came up with a traybake with a twist – my Espresso Caramel Pear Squares.
Since we’re travelling to Italy quite soon, my initial thoughts of a coffee-inspired recipe turned to Affogato. Affogato in Italian means “drowned” and there is a simple dessert where a scoop of ice-cream or gelato is topped with espresso. I look forward to plenty of those in Emiligia-Romagna. However, my thoughts then drifted to cake (this usually happens) and so I began tinkering with my mother’s fail-safe tray-bake recipe to create these espresso-infused baked topped with a very simple espresso caramel chocolate drizzle. I also love adding fresh fruit to my cakes and so a couple of British seasonal pears found their way in, too. I found the milk chocolate caramel drops in my local supermarket in the baking section. I often add a tablespoon or two of yoghurt to my traybakes, but using the pears and the liquid espresso gave this cake a lovely moistness in itself. You could use sliced apples, and it would work with stoned plums, too.
I hope you get a chance to try this recipe. The shot of espresso adds a very subtle coffee flavour – it doesn’t so much taste like a traditional ‘coffee’ cake. The pears keep the bake lovely and moist and if there is any left, it keeps superbly well, too, in an airtight container.
The Vintage Icona Bar Pump machine has a milk steamer, called the ‘cappuccino system’ just on the right-hand-side, so you can either serve your cake with an espresso, or create a longer cappuccino of latte – from the comfort of your own home.The machine will even warm you coffee cups for you, too!
Espresso Caramel Pear Squares
A traybake with seasonal pears, an espresso shot and a caramel-chocolate drizzle.
One cup or 225g caster sugar
4 large, free range eggs
One cup or 240ml mild, light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean power or extract
1/2 cup or 125ml espresso coffee
2 cups or 240g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 fresh pears, peeled, sliced
1/2 cup or 100 g chocolate caramel drops
1/2 cup or 125 ml espresso coffee
Butter for greasing the tin
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Taking a small knob of butter, grease and line a rectangular baking tin or tray (approx 9 Inches x 13 Inches) with baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the caster sugar, eggs, olive oil and vanilla together for five minutes, until slightly thickened.
- Pour in a freshly brewed shot of espresso coffee and mix again.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and carefully mix (with a metal spoon, not mixer) until it is all combined.
- Pour into a baking tray and then carefully lay some pear slices over the top, in rows. The pear pieces should just be visible.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once cooked, take out of the oven and leave the cake to cool.
- In the meantime, make the drizzle by melting the chocolate caramel drops form one minute in the microwave, or in a bowl over some gently simmering water. Once melted, add in a shot of espresso and mix together very well quickly until you have a smooth sauce.
- Drizzle the cake all over with the espresso-caramel sauce and cut into squares before serving.
- Keeps well in a tin for up to five days.
- For the drizzle, I used Silverspoon Caramel Milk Chocolate Flavour Drops.
The British seasonal pears also make this recipe a great candidate for my Simple and in Season monthly community blog event.
With many thanks to DeLonghi UK for inviting me to take part in this coffee challenge and for sending me this beautiful machine to try at home. You can follow our progress on Twitter using the hashtag #coffeechallenge.
Can I tempt you with a square…?