For the sponge:
170g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup castor sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups ground almonds
½ cup polenta
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs strong coffee
1 cup chopped dark chocolate
For the pears:
3 pears, peeled, halved and cored
1 vanilla pod, scraped
¼ cup castor sugar
2 cups clear apple juice
50g flaked almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease and line a 22cm spring cake tin.
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time until incorporated.
Combine the ground almonds, polenta, cocoa powder and baking powder then fold into the egg mixture.
Stir in the coffee and chopped chocolate then pour into the cake tin.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until the cake is cooked through.
Unmould then cool cake on a wire rack.
To make the pears, place all the ingredients into a saucepan, cover with a cartouche (grease-proof paper) then simmer until pears are tender.
Leave to cool in the juice
Serve the cake topped with poached pears and drizzled with the pear syrup, scattered with the flaked almonds.