So I started with wanting to revamp one of my favorite pound cake recipes and ended up with a stunner (If I do say so myself). It's hard not to be too braggy when you go into a recipe as a try-out and the result is more than you expected. Doesn't hurt that the pound cake recipe is no-fail--I mean, I use it all the time. But the additions of soft, spiced pear and a burnt-sugar crust (that's Brulee, people) with a hint of get the picture. So damn good.

This pound looks slightly homely on the inside--you can't do much about the way pears look when cooked--but the caramelized, micro-blackened bits of sparkling sugar crust should take care of any resistance someone might have. And, you could always pull a surprise force-feed on them...for their own good. I fully condone it.

Dessert or breakfast? Or midnight snack...all three, for me.

Notes: Neutral oil is grape seed. Butter is unsalted.

Bourbon Brulee-Top Spiced Pear Pound Cake

Ingredients: 1 stick butter at room temperature, 1/2 cup neutral oil, 1 scant cup sugar, 2 eggs at room temperature, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 peer-peeled and chopped, pinch of sea salt, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom. For Brulee top: 1 1/2 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. bourbon, 3 tbsp. sugar.

Makes one standard loaf.

1. Preheat oven to 350* and grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Cook the chopped pear in a small skillet pan over medium-high heat until browned. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and oil with the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth and creamy.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix until just combined.

4. Fold the pear into the batter. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until cake is pulling away from the sides and a tester comes out clean. Cool.

6. Brulee top: heat honey and bourbon together in the micro in a small bowl for 20-30 seconds, until honey is dissolved. Remove the loaf from the dish to a plate or flat surface. Brush over the honey bourbon mixture. Sprinkle over sugar, concentrating on getting an even layer.

7. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar until bubbling and turning dark brown. Some spots may look blackened, this is fine! Alternatively, move a rack in the oven into the highest position and place a piece of foil on it. Preheat to broil. Carefully transfer the loaf under the broiler and watch closely for the sugar to darken and caramelize. Do not let the sugar touch the oven burner (hello sparks!).

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