Warm Pear Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Amaretto Whipped Cream

Cake, Christmas, Desserts / Friday, January 2nd, 2009


“And now let us welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been. Things like Whipped Lightning™.”–Rainer Maria Rilke

Maybe I added that last part.

Right now, Whipped Lightning™, an alcohol-infused whipped cream you spray from a canister, is being test-marketed in Florida and Tennessee. Think Reddi-wip but 36.5 proof. I’d already bookmarked the recipe for Warm Pear Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Amaretto Whipped Cream in “The Pastry Queen Christmas,” so I decided to use the Amaretto-flavored Whipahol™ as a short cut.

Whoa, Baby.

Looks like Cool Whip, burns like Hot. Freaking. Fire. Especially if you’re not expecting it.

It’s a product destined for the cocktails of “Woo-girls” everywhere – women who shout “WOOOoooooOOO!” after they’ve got a little liquor in ’em and the bartender announces a drink special or a wedding DJ plays “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Brick House” or “Baby Got Back.”

I can hear it now: “Sex on the Beach with a little Orange Whipahol™, ladies?”


Anyway, I made the cake purely to test the Whipped Lightning™, but the cake is the real standout here. A moist, gingery cake topped with a mixture of butter, brown sugar, candied ginger and a double-layer of sliced pears, sweet and ripe but still firm. The rounded edge is the best part, melt-in-your-mouth buttery in places, then a little crispy from the brown sugar. I also love seeing the chopped candied ginger peeking out of the cake and dancing on top of the pear slices. A lovely way to welcome the new year.


Warm Pear Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Amaretto Whipped Cream

Adapted from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen Christmas”

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Use a 9-inch cake pan with sides that are at least 2 inches tall.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 ripe but firm pears, such as Anjou or Bartlett
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
    Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
  1. For the Topping: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Put the butter and brown sugar in the cake pan, and place it in the oven until melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, core the pears, and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Remove the pan from the oven, stir to combine the butter and sugar, and arrange the pears on top of the mixture in a circular pattern. Sprinkle the candied ginger over the pears.
  4. For the Cake: Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat for another 30 seconds.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. To the butter mixture, alternate adding the flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with the flour, beating on low speed between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and candied ginger.
  6. Pour the batter evenly over the pears. Bake for about 55 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and immediately invert onto a large cake plate. Let cool for about 15 minutes.
  7. For the Amaretto Whipped Cream: Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in the powdered sugar and Amaretto. Serve the cake, slightly warm, with the whipped cream alongside.

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17 thoughts on “Warm Pear Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Amaretto Whipped Cream

  1. maggie: The pears were a nice change from all the chocolate and cream cheese. Did I just say that?

    Denise: Yes, it’s in liquor stores around Nashville for about $10 per canister. It comes in amaretto, cinnamon, macadamia and orange. My sister gave me mine for Christmas, so I’ll see where she bought it and get back to you.

  2. It’s in every stinking liquor store in Clarksville. Which really says everything. The best part was when i bought it, the salesman specifically told me, “Do NOT do whippits with this product.” So it’s not the holy grail of fine inventions? Darn. I was hoping it’d be the missing link between life and true bliss.

  3. Rebecca, this looks stunning. You always seem to make my mouth water when i check out your recipes… Don’t forget to send me a recipe for my upcoming release of my e-book. I would love to have you a part of it


  4. Hi Rebecca- just found your blog through A Dozen Eggs, and you have inspired me. Decided this morning to bake the upside-down pear cake, DG’s Raisin sbnails and Brioche, and the Chicken Pot Pie! After “mis en plas”ing all my dairy ingredients, i realized that 1.5 lbs of butter in one afternoon was a bit too much! My family and i just enjoyed a warm piece of pear cake- very tasty and moist. Will make the pot pie tomorrow for dinner- it’s one of my husband’s favorites.
    I too was a former pastry cook, working in two bread bakeries before becoming pregrant 12 years ago. Since then i have been a stay-at-home mom, but i would love to get back into the baking biz again, doing something on my own. Thanks again for the inspiration,

  5. LOL, I know exactly the girls you are talking about. No, not me, other girls (wink, wink).

    Anyway, I love the name “whipped lightning”… gotta give credit to the marketing folks behind that.

    Your pear cake looks faaaaan-tastic! Woooohoooo!

  6. Geesh…this is really wonderful looking…I cannot keep up with your recipes…usually there is one or two on a site, but when I come here…I want to make it ALL!

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  8. I'm trying this recipe as I type… cake is in the oven and smelling good. One little lesson to be learnt, don't do this in a springform (bottom comes out) cake pan… I have butter leaking all over the oven. Fingers crossed that will not affect the end result too much.

    1. End result: Despite having to feel my way to the oven through a thick veil of smoke caused by the burning butter on the oven floor (nothing to do with the recipe or method), this is a deliciously to die for cake… I made it yesterday and already there is less than half a cake left and it's only me and my insulin-dependent dad at home (being diabetic doesn't stop him not matter what anyone says). It's a wonderful cake, thank you. Anita

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