Sunday, 8 February 2015

Poires Belle Helene

Poires Belle Helene (or poached pears with chocolate sauce) is a totally indulgent and beautifully simple dessert. We are lucky enough to have a little pear tree in our garden, so when that bears fruit we tend to eat a lot of pear-based dessert like this, as well as pear and almond tart, another family favourite.

You can poach the pears in advance, and then store in the fridge in an airtight container in the sugar syrup for a few days. The cold pears, combined with the hot chocolate sauce is just heaven!


4 Pears
4oz or 115g golden caster sugar
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 vanilla pod

Chocolate sauce:

150g good quality dark chocolate
100ml double cream
2 table spoons of Poire William liqueur (not essential, but adds a nice dimension to the sauce)


1. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with just over 1 pint of water. Pour in the golden caster sugar, lemon zest and juice. Slice the vanilla pod lengthways, just to split it open, and add that to the water too. Give it all a stir, and heat until it is nearly simmering, and all the sugar is dissolved.

2. In the meantime, peel the pears, leaving the stalks on. Slice the very bottom of the pears off, to create a firm base on which they can stand upright. 

3. With the sharp end of the peeler (if your peeler has one- if not use an apple corer or a small sharp knife), carefully remove the core of the pears, leaving the stalks on.

4. Place the pears in the saucepan upright, and make sure all the pear flesh is submerged in the liquid (if not, add a splash more water). Poach for 20 mins, or until the pears are soft through. When they are cooked, remove from the heat, and just leave them to cool in the syrup.

5. To make the chocolate sauce, break the chocolate into a heat proof bowl, and add the cream and pear liqueur if you are using it. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan filled with a couple of inches of water. Place on a gentle heat, so that the water is just simmering. Don't allow it to boil, or touch the base of your bowl with the chocolate and cream in it. Stir every now and again, making sure it doesn't catch on the bottom, until your sauce is silky and smooth,

6. To serve, scoop your pears out of the syrup, drain and put in your serving bowl. Pour over the chocolate sauce and serve with vanilla ice cream or cream (or both!).

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