I made my poaching syrup extra special by using a vanilla bean brought back from Madagascar by my uncle (I have quite a few of them wrapped carefully that I really cherish, they have the most divine vanilla smell).
I feel that Poire Belle Hélène is a very simple dessert yet, to me, it is really luxurious with all the amazing flavours and the richness and glossiness of the dark chocolate sauce.
Have you ever tasted this dessert?
If not, give it a try and even if you have, check my recipe below, the tonka twist to the dark chocolate sauce is really worth it.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
1 litre water
200g demerara sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean (split and seeded)
4 pears (peeled and stalk intact)
For the chocolate sauce
150g chopped dark chocolate
1 tonka bean (finely grated)
1. Put the water, sugar, lemon juice, the vanilla seeds and the split vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved then raise the heat and bring to a boil. Place the peeled pears in the saucepan (ensure that they are covered by the liquid or cover with a piece of baking paper and turn the pears every now and then to make sure they cook evenly) and cook on medium heat for 15 to 25 minutes until the pears are tender (you should be able to easily take spoonfuls of the pear if properly poached - cooking time may vary because of the quality and ripeness of the pear - you can check if it is tender with a skewer or a thin knife blade).
2. When the pears are cooked, remove them from the poaching juice and place them on a plate to cool down. Keep the poaching juice, you can make a delicious syrup by reducing it on a medium heat (and stay tuned because I will tell you what to do with it in a future blog post!).
3. Fill one third of a small saucepan with water. Put over a low heat and bring the water to a simmer. Put the chopped dark chocolate, cream and finely grated tonka bean into a heatproof bowl (it should be slightly bigger than the top of the saucepan). Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water. Stir gently until the chocolate has completely melted and you have a delicious glossy chocolate sauce. Transfer into a serving jug and serve hot.
To serve, you can slice the bottom part of the pear thinly so it stands upright on a dessert plate or bowl. Pour the hot chocolate sauce over the cold poached pears in front of your guest for a little bit of a 'wow!' factor.
Notes: you could make the chocolate sauce with a bit of water instead of cream (see recipes online to get proper amounts) in order to turn this recipe into a vegan/dairy free dessert.