Spiced Poached Pears With Warm Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Poire Belle Helene

If you read this from France or are an expat anywhere in the world, you're probably looking at this picture and thinking "Oh! Helene made Poire Belle Helene!" and move on to the rest of the post. If you had never had such a dessert and read a title like this, you'd think I'd blown a fuse by naming a dessert after myself. And as if that weren't enough, adding the adjective "belle" to describe it all. Hmmmm....No.

I did not come up with name, heck I did not even liked the dessert this much until in my late twenties! Auguste Escoffier created the Poire Belle Helene in 1870, naming it after one of Offenbach's operette, La Belle Helene. Yes. 1870. Makes me wish Escoffier had had a blog in 1870. Or a twitter account. I bet his updates would be of the most delectable kind. Seriously.

Forelle Pears

This is probably one of the core desserts of French cuisine. At least of bistros and restaurants when I was growing up. Funny thing is that I never did make much of it though because it bears only half my name. Indeed, I was born and baptized Marie-Helene like some are named Marie-Louise or Jean-Luc. However computers here in the States don't seem to recognize hyphens and cut my first name in half. If I was going to be halved somehow, at least I'd get to pick which one, darn it. So I'm Helene. Except when I am in trouble, ehehe!

So, there is part of the little story. Or at least part of the reason why I never really appreciated Poires Belle Helene until well into my twenties. Why this late? I have an aversion for fruits and chocolate combined. There, I said it! I love nuts and chocolate. I love lemon and chocolate. I used to hate all fruits with chocolate. My most least favorite pairing was orange and chocolate. My less least favorite (!) was pear and chocolate.

Poire Belle Helene

There is something about the soft fragrance of pears that plays well with chocolate and either brings it forth and mellows it just so. Poached pears and hot chocolate sauce especially. They like each other, it's obvious. They're not sure on who should lead though and artfully play that up. And much like two people attracted to each other, poached pears and hot chocolate sauce are kind of the ultimate in sexy when it comes to dessert.

It's the only fruit - chocolate pairing that enthused me this much. Add a good scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and the combination hot chocolate, cold vanilla, soft fruit just has me weak in the knees. There are indeed moments of bliss to be experienced with the simplicity of certain flavors, textures and temperatures. Poire Belle Helene is just that. Hot and cold, creamy, crunchy, soft. We did a few "hmmmm" and "aaaahhhs" with the first spoonfuls. I even caught one of my friends sashaying her hips around the living room the night we shared these for dinner.

Poire Belle Helene

Poire Belle Helene won't bring on World Peace but I guarantee it'll make everyone at your dinner table a tad bit happier inside...It won't cure whatever ails you but it won't give you a brain freeze. It will just super activate all your senses...

Tiny Forelle pears make it remarkably easy to plate and portion out but you can use any of your favorite pear variety. As I have three major deadlines all coming to a clash for November 1st, this dessert has been the easiest thing to fix myself for a little midnight reward. That's my sly way of saying "I know I suck big time at posting right now and wait, you ain't seen nothing yet. It might get worse!..."

Please send chocolate...

Poire Belle Helene


Poires Belle Helene - Spiced Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

Serves 6

For the poached pears:
6 Forelle pears (or other small-ish pears)
2 tablespoon mulling cider spice mix
juice of one lemon

For the chocolate sauce:
4 oz semisweet best quality chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon honey

For the ice cream:
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 cup (200gr) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

Prepare the pears:
Place the pears, spice mix, lemon juice and enough water to cover them in a tall saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat and let them simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the pears are just soft (poke with a toothpick to check).
Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and allow to cool on paper towel or baking rack.

Prepare the sauce:
Place the chocolate in a non reactive bowl and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan set over medium high heat, bring the cream and honey to a strong simmer. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes then slowly stir until the mixture comes together.

Prepare the ice cream:
In a large saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, and sugar. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the inside with the tip of a knife. Add that pulp (the seeds) to the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let steep as it cools to room temperature. Refrigerate, preferably overnight. Strain if desired.
Process the mixture into your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's intructions.

To plate: ice cream + poached pear + warm chocolate sauce.
Yes...

80 comments:

Stephanie said...

10 seconds after getting your tweet I am online salivating over your post!! Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those shots are stunning! What a delicious dessert.

Cheers,

Rosa

Jessica @ How Sweet said...

You had me at chocolate sauce. Beautiful.

Chelsea said...

What an interesting combination! I never would have thought chocolate and pears. I can't wait to try them myself!

Joy said...

I totally understand about what should not be paired with chocolate. I would never think of putting pears and chocolate together.

SweetSavoryPlanet said...

Those pears look so lovely and delicious. I have a bag of small pears on my counter as we speak. And this recipe is so easy.

Lovely photos.

Jane Bonacci said...

I typically think of red wine-poached pears, but this is an unexpected treat. Thank you!

Sasa said...

Oh Helene, tell me your secret! I'm a total heathen and don't enjoy fruit and chocolate together, nor cheese and fruit and I try and try but cannot enjoy wine...Is there hope for me yet? ;P

Paula said...

what a great combination! I love pears with chocolate sauce

have a nice time,
Paula

thecookandtheguitarist said...

Love pear and chocolate together!

Jessie said...

oh i love the pictures! especially the one with chocolate being poured onto the pear! totally salivating over this entry! looks so delish :P

shaz said...

Ah, what a beautiful name Marie-Helene! I apologise for the countless times I've anglicized your name further to Helen, oops. This is one of my favourite desserts(even though I'm not the least bit French). Then again, I like fruit and chocolate, especially chocolate dipped strawberries :)

Julie | rock @ lulu said...

i read you from France! and thanks for this beautiful post on one of the most successful desserts from our delicious country! thanks also for this great explanantion of the origins i didn't know! love your blog, love the photos, you're a star!

bunkycooks said...

I have enjoyed this dessert many times in the past and forgot about it will all of the baked pear desserts and pear tarts. Thank you for reminding me just how wonderful it is and simple to prepare.

Deeba PAB said...

Gorgeous pairing, and gorgeous pictures. Just beautiful!

quintessence said...

This is a dream dessert for me. I used to live in Switzerland and this was a very popular dessert that I remember fondly! Yum!!!

Fran said...

Oh my goodness. The shots of the chocolate sauce being poured over those delicate-looking pears make me want to dive head-long into my computer.

What a fabulous combination and beautiful contrast.

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

How do you make everything look so breathtakingly delicious, elegant and beautiful. It cheers me up looking at these pics - Recipe bookmarked - a must.

mouni said...

tout simplement superbe!

Gen said...

Elle est très belle cette Poire Belle Helene! Un vrai dessert gourmand et toujours aussi savoureux!

fiveandspice said...

Oh these look so lovely! And they make me think of Christmas. I for the longest time thought poires belle helene was a Norwegian dessert because we had them for dessert after our traditional Norwegian Christmas supper. We called them paere bell helen, though :).

La Tartine Gourmande said...

Plein de souvenirs goûteux, même si comme toi, pendant longtemps, le dessert ne m'attirait pas autant que d'autres.

Kelly-Jane said...

A classic, yum. Good luck with your deadlines!

luisa said...

Esto se ve delicioso. Bss.

Sally Pasley Vargas said...

Helene, There is something about the old-fashioned French classical desserts that moves me--they are steeped in a comforting tradition. I am not French, but formed my connection to France as a French major in college and then later through a dear friend and mentor who taught me to cook. Profiteroles, cafe Liegeois, even a really good creme brulee send me into sighs of happiness. Thanks for the reminder of yet another memory-stirring dessert and lovely photos.

Stephanie said...

I am reading you from Paris! Bonjour!
Lovely post and photos. I will make this for my next dinner party.
Thank you for the inspiration.

erica said...

What a delicious combination of flavors and what beautiful presentation! I couldn't wait to make this, so I was glad I had vanilla ice cream, some homemade pear compote, chocolate sauce, and chopped toasted almonds already on hand in the house :) I'd love to try the "real thing" out sometime though, it would be a great dinner party dessert!

Alexandra said...

H.,
decadence at it's best!
The last photo with the chocolate sauce is soo screen lick worthy! Magnifique!

Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] said...

I live in France and have never tried this - Quelle horreur! Must change this immediately...

Emily said...

Yes is right. Wow! I'm going to have to break away from my pear pie fixation and give this a go. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Your photography is my favorite in the blog world - absolutely stunning!

Heidi - Apples Under My Bed said...

I loved reading this - lovely, playful words :)
They "pear" (read:pair) so well together! Poires Belle Helene - lovely name, too.
Heidi xo

Leah said...

I am reading you from Manila!

Thanks for this wonderful post with beautiful photos! I love simple and easy to make desserts. Will make this when I go back to New York.

~Leah
(http://simplesplendidthings.wordpress.com)

Leah said...

I am reading you from Manila!

Thanks for this wonderful post with beautiful photos! I love simple and easy to make desserts. Will make this when I go back to New York.

~Leah
(http://simplesplendidthings.wordpress.com)

Chocolate Freckles said...

This treat is not only gorgeous but I can just imagine how amazing it tastes!! Thanks for posting this great recipe so we can all try it!

Jas. said...

oh my, love the shot of the pears, so rustic, but gorgeous! My man was salivating when I read out the title and has instructed me that this is what I have to make with the pears sitting in our fruit bowl!

maryeats said...

i also have a hyphenated name, mary-elizabeth, but most computers and auto fill forms rename me maryelizab. My mother and teachers were the only people to use my full name (i was always in trouble!). your photos look beautiful! can't wait to try!!

Soma said...

We LOVE wine poached pears and so far I have been poaching them with spices in red wine, just for the hue. But now as I see the chocolate sauce, it surpasses all beauty. This one is for the next time I do the wine poached pears.

barbaraT said...

Hi! I LOVE the small bowl and plate in the last pic. where did you get it?
thanks!

starrybluesky said...

Haven't eaten this in a very long time, and as a few others have said, pears poached in red wine have become a staple for me...but hmmm going to have to try this one again soon. Thanks :)

The InTolerant Chef said...

Thw tiny size of these pears make the desssert look extra sweet, Yumm...

The Teacher Cooks said...

This is absolutely beautiful! I want to be your neighbor please!

Helene said...

Barbara: they are from Heath Ceramics.

Susan said...

I adapted this recipe by drying my pears and then dipping half of it into decadent chocolate.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Breathtaking photos!

I'll save this for the dozens of fruit baskets with lovely pears I always get around Christmas...

Julia said...

Wow. I love pears. Some cardamom or ginger in the poaching liquid would pair nicely with the chocolate. Even saffron might be lovely. Yum.

Julia said...

P.S. I can't send any because I'm not in Portland (OR) myself, but some of my favorite chocolates ever are from Sahagun. The salted cardamom caramels from LA Burdick aren't half bad either. Hope you find some delicious ones to pull you through that deadline of yours!

Helene said...

Julia: the liquid already has ginger in it. I like it without the cinnamon and with cardamom instead but both combined is a bit too much.
Saffron yes but it can get quite pricey. You can read about the Saffron Poached Pears I did before here.

emily said...

These photographs alone are stunning!

matt said...

absolutely stunning. your composition and lighting just flaw me every time. And the food? WOW.

Denise said...

One dessert that's quintessentially Parisian I've had in the City of Lights and made at home is a Pear Tart with an almond flavored custard nestled around the neatly arranged pear slices. No chocolate in that one. But if you hum a few bars... *wink* Just pear, silky almond custard and the flaky crust. It has such an amazingly mellow, easy taste - I could just keep on eating. The chocolate here really kicks it up a notch.

Helene said...

Denise: yes, it is a very typical dessert on its own and called a tarte "Bourdaloue".

Amy said...

Yum...yes, they're easy and I bet super delish! I know what to reward myself tonight after working long hours! :) Good luck on your deadlines!

Julie said...

The photo of the pears in the bowl, on the burlap, is breathtakingly beautiful. I thought "how could a pear look more lovely" and then I saw it in its cloak of chocolate...

Al Dente Gourmet said...

Hi Helene, What a Delicious Dessert! I love Poached Fruit especially Pears. Great combination of flavors.

Lovely Pics,

Have a nice day, Aldy.

Al Dente Gourmet said...

Hi Helene, What a Delicious Dessert! I love Poached Fruit especially Pears. Great combination of flavors.

Lovely Pics,

Have a nice day, Aldy.

Lisa said...

This is stunning! Absolutely gorgeous photos, as always. I can't wait until next autumn in Australia so I can make this :)

tori said...

I almost reached out a finger to try and swipe a lick from the screen. They look just achingly beautiful

Lan said...

One of your pictures just took me back to my childhood! There was TV commercial in France where chocolate was slowly being poured over a poached pear...I can almost smell the chocolate from here.
Beautiful pictures, Helen!

Helene said...

Lan: yep, I grew up with that commercial. It was for Nestle. You can view it here. One of my uncles was one of the creatives behind it actually.
Did not occur to me until I started looking at the pictures.

dining room table said...

Oh my! This is lovely! The photos made me crave for some pears right now.

Teresa said...

Pears and Chocolate...Simple and Beautiful!!

TannyP said...

This looks divine! My only question - how much water should the pears be poached in? I think I missed that somewhere and it's not in the recipe.
Thanks for another yummy recipe.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Helen, I have tried lemon with chocolate, but only white - I have got to try it with dark, too!
I love the idea of this dessert - pears and chocolate, double yum! Beautiful,sweetie!
xx

Notes from Holly St. said...

this dessert looks like perfection!

Ana Sofia said...

I have to try these right away! And the pictures are beautiful as always.

amanda@seegirlcook said...

these look absolutely decadent. lovely blog and gorgeous photos!:)

Ho Ho Ho said...

Lovely dessert... and always look forward to your post and lovely photos... Thank you :)

shilgia said...

Dear Helene- I like this desert a lot- but like you it took me some time. We had this (or versions of it) a lot on winter-sundays. Your pictures are fabulous!
The "kids-friendly" version we liked: halfs of pears, poached and spiked with almond-sticks, so that they look like hedghogs and served with vanillia ice-cream.... mmmhhh.

pinky black said...

chocolate and pear? pears and chocolate? perfect combination! plus the soothing vanilla ice cream? real heaven! can't wait to try this and let my taste buds be tickled.

A said...

Oh my God!!!
It looks amazing, I don't even want to think about the taste!!!
Fabulouso!!!
5 star desert:)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Poached pears are one of those desserts that I find can be boring or delicious depending on how they're done. These look like they're definitely on the delicious side. I don't know if I've ever seen them with chocolate. I like the idea though.

Oddly enough I was in Paris for the first time two weeks ago and trying to remember poached pears on menus. I probably never thought to order it, always thinking profiteroles and creme brulee and chocolate mousse. Now I realized I should have branched out!

Garrett said...

Love this, H. But then again, I am a fan of fruit simply prepared. ;)

Bakingdom said...

Your food is always absolutely mouthwatering. But it's your photos that just blow me away! And this particular recipe and its photos are, by far, my favorites ever!

You are my idol! I hope that I can eventually be even half as good at photographing my recipes as you are!! I also hope very, very much that there will be another Food & Light Photography Workshop (hint, hint)!!! I'll definitely be there!

Thank you for the inspiration!

pineapplebread said...

I stopped eating chocolate half a decade ago, but this post definitely makes me want to start again . . . Mmm... looks absolutely delectable!

Sara said...

I am SO JEALOUS of all your pretty dishes, Helen! Not to mention that the recipe looks wonderfu!

Myriam @ Detours said...

Oh my God, these Poire Belle Helen look utterly delicious!! I want some!

Soma said...

I made these almost right after you posted it. could not resist myself. Posted mine today. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

Kaczuszka said...

I saw this dessert in your book (wich I won in food-photography competition). I'm getting married and our parents will meet soon for the first time - I'm gonna do the Poire Belle Helene for them!

Margherita said...

Just made these for lunch: amazing!
It's one of the best thing I had in months for dessert.
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe.

Margherita said...

Just made these for lunch: amazing!
It's one of the best thing I had in months for dessert.
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe.

Tartelette All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger