This week we are taking a break from the skinny theme, and indulging in some healthy pears with some also very healthy chocolate....
About Poires Belle Hélène
This classic French recipe were invented Paris in the 19th century and were named after an opera by Offenbach. What a romantic introduction for this French dessert par excellence, a true classic, found in at least half of the restaurants of the Hexagone. It only takes a few minutes to assemble this dish if you use ready-made ingredients; it is actually not much longer to prepare half of them from scratch (the poached pears and the melted chocolate). You can even make crème Chantilly and toasted flaked almonds for a deluxe version on very special occasions.
About Poires William liqueur
A pear flavoured liqueur. Liqueur is a class of spirit that is usually sweet and often served after dinner. It is produced by either mixing or redistilling spirits with natural ingredients such as fruits, plants, flowers, or chocolate. Sugar must be at least 2.5% of the contents by weight.
8 ripe, firm pears
225 gm / 8 oz golden caster sugar
1 lemon, pared zest and juice
2 vanilla pods
For the sauce
315 gm / 11 oz dark chocolate with 70-75% cocoa solids, broken into small pieces
200 ml / 7 fl oz double cream
3 tablespoons Poire William liqueur
425 ml / 15 fl oz double cream, whipped, and sweetened to taste with vanilla sugar or good-quality vanilla ice cream
110 gm / 4 oz toasted flaked almonds (optional)
1. Pour 1.5 litre / 2½ pints water into a saucepan with a base diameter of 23-cm / 9-inch.
2. Stir in the sugar, lemon zest and juice, along with the vanilla pods.
3. Bring to simmering point and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
4. Meanwhile, using a potato peeler, thinly pare off the outer skin of the pears but leave the stalks intact. Then slice off a thin little disc at the base of each pear so that they can sit upright. Carefully remove a little of the core from the base of each pear, using the pointed end of the peeler.
5. Put the pears into the hot syrup in the saucepan and cover with a piece of baking parchment, which needs to cover the liquid to make sure the pears are submerged.
6. Simmer the pears in the syrup for 20 minutes, then, using a small skewer, test them to see if they are tender. If not, cook for a further 5 minutes and test them again.
7. Leave the pears to cool in the syrup, or they can be stored in the syrup in an airtight, polythene container in the fridge for a couple of days.
8. To make the sauce, put the broken-up chocolate, cream and liqueur into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water, then, stir constantly as the chocolate melts until the sauce is smooth and glossy.
9. To serve, drain the pears and serve them with the hot chocolate sauce, and some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Or, serve the pears with crème Chantilly – whipped cream, which has been sweetened with vanilla sugar – and scatter toasted flaked almonds over the top.
Bon appetit a tous.....Leeann x