Strawberry Poached Pear Chocolate Shortcake

4 firm pears (I used Anjou)
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 bottle sweet white wine (I used vinho verde, surprise, surprise)
1 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
pinch salt
juice from 1/2 lemon

*Peel pears. Add to large bowl full of water and lemon juice (to prevent discoloration).

*Blend frozen strawberries and water. Add puree to large stock pot, add wine, and sugar. Bring to boil, dissolve sugar. Reduce to medium low. Add lemon zest. Add pears.

*Poach pears until tender, but still slightly firm (not mushy … about 45 min.). The poaching liquid should remain at a gentle simmer. Turn pears occasionally to ensure that they poach evenly.

*Remove pears, add to dish, refrigerate. Add remaining poaching liquid to medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium high. Reduce to a light syrup (about 20 minutes). Serve pears with syrup and chocolate cake (see recipe below). I also love poached pears with sorbet and soy whip!

Chocolate Cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup boiling water
1 cup earth balance
2 1/2 cups white sugar
4 eggs or equivalent egg replacer
1 cup sour cream (I used vegan)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a Bundt pan.
*Dissolve cocoa powder in boiling water; set aside.

*Cream earth balance and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs/egg replacer, one at a time until fully mixed and fluffy.
*Mix flours, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
*Add 1/2 of dry ingredients to egg/butter/sugar mixer. Beat until incorporated. Add 1/2 of sour cream. Beat until incorporated. Add remaining dry. Beat. Add remaining sour cream. Beat. Beat in cocoa/water mixture and orange zest. Add mixture to prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.