Poires Belle-Hélène

We have pears, pears and more pears in our fridge at the moment.  When Joel finds something ripe and cheap at the fruit and veg shop he buys big.  Reminds me of the children’s book ‘Too Many Pears’ where Pamela the cow eats pears all day long until she is served a pear feast and greedily gobbles up 600 pears.  Then Pamela doesn’t like pears anymore … instead she starts to eye off apples.

We have been feasting on pears.  Pears in lunch boxes, pears in cakes, pears in salads and now poached pears with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream aka poires belle Hélène.

The pears can poach in the sugar syrup earlier in the day and once cooked can happily sit in the syrup until dessert.  You can add a cinnamon stick, vanilla pod or cloves to the poaching syrup but I just use a split vanilla pod.  The pears emerge with little black specks all over them from the vanilla – yum!

I make the chocolate sauce at the same time as I poach the pears so it is cools nicely.  Pour it into a jug ready for the table. So all you need to do at dessert time is plate up the pears with just a drizzle of the syrup.  A small glass works beautifully to pop the pear into. Not only does it look good but it makes eating the pear so much more manageable.  It won’t slip and slide away from you.  Serve the ice cream on the side. Simple perfection.

Hmmm … a crunchy, fresh apple sounds good though.  I think Pamela the cow is onto something there.

poires belle-hélène

6 – 8 ripe pears
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
1 lemon, juiced
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise
125g good dark chocolate, finely chopped (I use the Callebaut callets)
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk

In a large pot stir together the sugar and water over a low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a simmer then add the lemon juice and vanilla bean.

Peel the pears leaving the stem intact.  Core the pear from the base using a small melon baller or a knife.  Trim the base of the pear so it sits upright.  Place them in the simmering syrup and top with a round of baking paper and cover with a lid.  Leave to barely simmer until cooked, which could be 20 minutes to well over an hour depending on the type of pear and how ripe it is.  Test with a skewer, which will come out easily when cooked.

In a small saucepan stir together the chocolate, cream and milk over a low heat.  Continue stirring until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth.  Pour into a jug and set aside.

Serve the pears in a shallow bowl or glass.  Drizzle a little syrup over.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.  Place the jug of chocolate sauce on the table for everyone to help themselves to.

Don’t throw out the poaching syrup.  Store in a zip lock freezer bag in the freezer for another day for fruit poaching.

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