It's kind of unusual that I chose pears to make a dessert out of recently. In terms of fruit, they've never been my favorite. I tend to prefer the apple or some type of berry. Yet, there they were - a crate at the market stuffed full of beautiful Bosc pears, seducing patrons right and left with their long stems and dark, autumnal skins. I bought some, even though I didn't really know what I wanted to do with them.
As you may know, anything tastes better when covered in chocolate. Over Thanksgiving weekend I reminisced with my family over how my sister and I used to take giant spoons out of the kitchen drawer, fill them with Hershey's syrup and lick them clean as kids. Gross? Perhaps... but to us it was an unbelievable treat. So, when I came across a recipe in Julia Child's bible "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", I decided I'd found the perfect use for my pears: Poires Helene. Aka, poached pears covered in chocolate sauce. I changed the recipe quite a bit - so this is definitely a bastardized version of Ms. Child's mastery... I had to alter it to fit what I had on hand.
I'd never poached a pear before, and the only one I'd ever eaten was poached in red wine, so this was a definitely new territory. They turned out great - although, I could have perhaps poached them a tiny bit longer... I was so worried about them being mushy, but Bosc pears seem to hold up better than their Bartlett cousins. My taste tester (aka Josh, the picky dessert eater) ate his entire plate full, which means he liked it... alot. (He doesn't hesistate to make sour faces when he doesn't like something and he certainly doesn't ever finish something that he doesn't like. Some may think that rude, but I actually appreciate it because then I know what truly works and what doesn't!)
If chocolate covered anything sounds good to you, or if you're a Francophile, or if you just think pears look pretty, I think you'll like this dessert... Technically, they should be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as well, but we decided to just pile on more chocolate.
Poires Helene (serves 2)
2 ripe Bosc pears
1/2 quart water
3/4 C. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon-sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 T. butter
In a saucepan, bring water, vanilla, sugar and juice of lemon to a boil. Peel pears and half lengthwise, removing seeds and core. Place in saucepan, return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Poach 30 minutes or until tender.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring constantly.
When the pears are ready, remove and plate them. I sliced mine, but you can certainly leave yours whole. Top with a sprinking of cinnamon-sugar, and then drizzle with chocolate. (Add a scoop of ice cream first if you like.)