Polenta Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Pears


This past weekend, my friend Beatrice invited me over to her house to eat her homemade mole and drink sangria and I had the task of bringing a dessert for my gluten free friend. After a bit internet digging, I found a great recipe for Polenta Cake (often dry, this version was super moist and delish) on the Real Simple website. The recipe called for plums but I went with pears (you can use whatever is in season). I served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and smoked sea salt caramel sauce.

Polenta Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Pears
Recipe adapted from Real Simple
Serves 8

1/4 cup of sugar plus 5 tablespoons sugar
2  cups  whole milk
1  tablespoon  vanilla extract
1  stick unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
1  cup  instant polenta
1/2  cup  honey
4  large eggs, separated
3 pears, medium diced
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 pint of vanilla ice cream
1 jar of caramel sauce

Heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm the milk and vanilla. Add the butter, zest, and salt. Bring to a simmer. Whisking constantly, slowly stir in the polenta. Cook, still whisking, for 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the honey, egg yolks, and 3 tablespoons sugar and whisk until combined. Let cool until lukewarm.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the egg whites and 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form. With a spatula, fold the egg white mixture into the polenta mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes.

Warm the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pears, 1/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon and cook until the pears are warm and the butter, sugar and cinnamon have formed a light sauce.

Top the cake with the pears. Slice and serve with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of warmed caramel.