Sweet Clover Cream
- In a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let bloom for 5 minutes.
- In a saucepan off the heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and flour. Whisk in the eggs. Add the milk and sweet clover extract. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. Simmer for 30 seconds.
- Off the heat, stir in the gelatin until it dissolves. Strain through a sieve to remove lumps, if needed. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream. Let cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or until completely chilled. When ready to use, stir with a spatula to soften.
- Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook the pears with the brown sugar until they are translucent and caramelized. Deglaze with the water, then bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool. Drain the pears on paper towels.
- With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 12 x 17-inch (30 x 43 cm) baking sheet with parchment paper, letting it hang over two sides. Generously butter the paper and the exposed sides of the baking sheet.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and spices. Set aside.
- In another bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar and molasses with an electric mixer until the mixture triples in volume and forms a ribbon as it falls from the beaters, about 10 minutes. With the mixer at low speed, drizzle in the oil.
- Sift the dry ingredients over the egg mixture and gently fold in using a whisk. Spread the batter evenly on the prepared sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.
- In a bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the chilled sweet clover cream until smooth. Using the whisk or a spatula, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Spoon the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch (1 cm) plain round tip.
- Remove the cake from the baking sheet by carefully lifting the parchment paper. Evenly trim the edges of the cake
(see note). Cut into 3 rectangles of different widths: 6 1/2 inches (16.5 cm), 5 inches (12.5 cm) and 4 inches (10 cm).
- Place the largest rectangle on a serving platter. Cover with the cream by piping in a tight winding motion, then garnish with the pears. Repeat the sequences with the remaining ingredients, layering the cakes in order from largest to smallest. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Decorate with the pears and gingerbread cookies, if desired.
Toast the cake trimmings in the oven to make delicious croutons.