Hello, young Padawan
I hope you had a good Christmas and that your New Year’s Eve is announced under the most beautiful stars.
If you’re wondering what the hell you’re going to make for dessert, and you just happen to crave fruit and decadence with a touch of finesse, I’ve got the recipe for you. Easy and fast, your guests will be seduced.
Today we are going to make an old French dessert. This is a simple recipe but slightly revisited to bring some spicy notes and, above all, to change the traditional cooking method (poached), which I don’t like. In the kitchen, let’s go.
Belle-Hélène pears, Chill style.
For four servings
4 ripe organic Williams pears
2 1/4 cups of water
2 tsp sugar
The zest of half an organic orange
1 star anise
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches of vanilla powder from Madagascar
3.5 oz of dark baking chocolate, or 2/3 cup of chocolate drops (here, I used the organic brand Kakoa 72% cocoa)
4 handfuls of flaked almonds
Note: if you have more guests, just count 0.9 oz of chocolate per person, and for the broth, add 1/2 cup of water and a pinch of sugar for two more pears. If you lack broth (if, for example, the fire was too strong under the steamer), simply add hot water to the existing broth, and let it infuse for one or two minutes.
To steam your pears with the broth we are going to make; you will need either: Marion’s vitaliseur, or any non-electric steamer (because we cook them with a broth and not with water, and that risk of damaging your device), or a couscous maker, or a saucepan, a metal colander (or a metal steamer) and a lid.
Wash the orange and the pears.
In the bottom of the vitaliseur or any other steamer, pour the water, sugar, and all the spices: star anise, cinnamon, vanilla, and clove.
Zest half of an orange, and place the zest in the broth with the spices.
Peel the pears and put the peelings in the bottom of the steamer with the spices. Yes, the peelings in the broth will add flavor and roundness. This is why I specified “organic” in the recipe. If your pears are not organic, don’t do it; but don’t worry, it will still be good, anyway.
Leave the peduncle of your pears to keep the pretty look, but remove the one at the bottom, cleanly. The more expert among us will take the opportunity to straighten the pear if they are croocked, by removing a little more material on the underside.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a ramekin.
Roast the almonds in a pan over medium heat. Stir from time to time, and turn off the heat when they begin to color. The heat of the pan will finish browning them. Remove them from the pan when their golden color suits you.
Place the pears on the top of the steamer (leaving a place in the center to put, when the time comes, the chocolate ramekin at the end of cooking), and bring everything to a boil.
Lower the heat to medium-low when the broth boils, and cook the pears for 5 to 7 minutes. Regularly check the cooking with a thin knife.
When they only need one or two minutes of cooking, put the ramekin of chocolate in the steamer with a potholder or non-slip tongs, turn off the heat and wait for one to two minutes covered. The chocolate should be almost melted. Remove it; the temperature of the ramekin will be enough to finish the job.
Check the cooking of the pears with a thin knife. They need to be “Just cooked,” in short. If they lack a little cooking, it is possible to relight the fire for a few additional seconds of cooking, as long as you have removed the ramekin of chocolate. Strain the broth through a fine strainer. Keep pears and broth warm.
Note: for those who receive guests, it is possible to cook the pears al-dente in advance, keep them and their broth in the refrigerator, and turn on the steamer again at the last moment to reheat them and finish cooking. Once they are almost cooked, add the ramekin of chocolate after turning off the heat.
Once the ramekin of chocolate has been removed from the steamer or vitaliseur, stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it is well melted. Add the broth little by little without stopping stirring, adding more until you obtain a lovely chocolate coulis, neither too liquid nor too thick, smooth, and shiny. Keep warm.
In your prettiest soup plates, place a pear in the center, cover with the hot flavored chocolate coulis, and sprinkle with roasted slivered almonds.
Should I lower myself to offer you a wine pairing in this champagne season? I do not think so. A non-dosed one for lovers of roundness, and raw for fans of the classic bubble. But everyone will enjoy this subtle and gourmet dessert.
I wish you a great New Year’s Eve, have fun, enjoy, and see you next year!