Combining fruit and cheese together is certainly not a new concept. Drizzling honey and cracked pepper over goat cheese is a staple at cocktail parties. I've taken these flavors to the next level by folding them into buttery pound cake. It's become the most sought after hostess gift. Bake a loaf or two, I bet your friends all will agree. Share the loaf plus the recipe for the holidays. This recipe is unique in flavor. I use semi-soft Norwegian goat cheese that has a caramelized flavor. It's perfect with the pears and black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 1/4- by 5 1/4- by 2 3/4-inch loaf pan.
In a saute pan over medium high heat, heat the butter and vanilla bean pod and seeds. When the butter is melted and hot, add the pears and cook, tossing often, about 3 minutes.
When the pears start to soften, add the honey and continue to cook, tossing to coat and caramelize, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners' sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Sift together all the dry ingredients. Set aside.
Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed. Add the vanilla ref="http://www.foodterms.com/encyclopedia/bean-sauces/index.html" class="crosslink" debug="791 801">bean paste. Dump in the sifted dry ingredients and mix for 1 minute to incorporate.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Drain the pears, discard the liquid and fold them into the dough with a wooden spoon. Fold in the grated cheese.
Fill the buttered loaf pan with the dough and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake 55 to 60 minutes (rotate the cake after 30 minutes) until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes. Unmold and let cool completely. This pound cake is great the same day, and amazing the next day toasted.
Store at room temperature for up to 4 or 5 days. This also freezes very well. Defrost overnight before serving.