Requires: 24cm round cake pan, electric mixer (or hand beater)
Preheat oven to 180°C conventional oven (350° Fahrenheit/Gas 4). Grease a 24cm round cake pan by lightly buttering the base and sides with margarine or butter. Line the base with baking paper, then lightly butter over the baking paper. Add a heaped tablespoon of 00 flour, then turn and shake the tin to coat the butter in flour on the base and sides of the cake pan.
Place the sugar, water and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then add the pears. Allow the pears to simmer in the liquid for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain the pears and set aside. Place the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let bowl touch the water). Cook, stirring using a metal spoon, until the chocolate has melted to a smooth consistency. Remove the bowl with melted chocolate from the heat and allow to cool.
Using an electric mixer or hand beater, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. With the mixer (or hand beater) running, add the egg yolks, one at a time. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour and unsweetened cocoa powder (cacao magro), one tablespoon at a time. You want to see air bubbles rise to the surface of the cake mixture before adding additional tablespoons of flour. Stir in the milk, then butter until well combined. Stir the sifted baking powder, then the melted chocolate into the cake mixture.
Note: 00 is a powder-fine Italian type of flour. It is made from soft wheat varieties, and is frequently used in Italian desserts and pastas. 00 flour is available in most supermarkets, Italian food stores and gourmet delicatessens.
Arrange the pears in a circular pattern on the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Pour the cake mixture over the pears. Bake for 45 mins or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely – buon appetito.