How lucky am I to have friends in all the best places in Rome?  Daniela Del Balzo is a chef and cooking teacher whose  classes encompass all the diverse cuisines of the 20 regions of Italy, but some of her most seductive dishes are those from her native Naples. This cake is one of those dishes, a traditional cake from the Costiera Amalfitana (the Amalfi Coast) where the ingredients are the exquisite Peninsula Sorrentina pears—alas! sweeter than anything else on earth. But, don’t despair! The sensational combination of chocolate and pears ensures that no matter where you live this cake will be delicious.

I converted Daniela’s recipe to our measurement system for you and also used Bartlett pears and a good quality at least 64% baking dark chocolate.

Please visit Daniela’s Cooking School for more wonderful recipes and, when in Rome, do as I do and take a cooking class in Daniela’s lovely home in the romantic Aventino, one of the fabled seven hills of the Eternal City.


3 large sweet and firm pears, Bartlett or D’Anjou
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup ricotta
1 vanilla bean, crushed
3 whole eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour 10-inch baking pan

Peel the pears and chop into small cubes, put into bowl with lemon juice to prevent browning.
In large bowl, beat sugar, ricotta, and crushed vanilla pod.
Add eggs one at a time and add lemon rind.
Sift flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt and slowly beat into the mixture.  (It will be thick.)
Add chopped chocolate and pears and incorporate well.
Pour into baking pan, smooth top, and bake for one hour.

When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

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