Poached Pears Try French Classic Poires Belle Helene
Poached pears might be one of the easiest French desserts to serve. The preparation time is short and there is quite a variety of combinations you can create. It’s a simple dessert to master and can be easily altered to suit your tastes.
To better understand where the dessert “Poris Belle Helene” comes from it is important to know a brief history. Renowned chef Auguste Escoffier invented the dessert in the 1800s naming it after Jacques Offenbach’s Operetta La Belle Hélène. Hortense Catherine Schneider, who played the role of Helen of Troy, was one of the great stars of operettas in the 1800s and appeared in many of Offenbach’s other operettas. She was a darling of French society and rumoured to be the mistress of King Edward VII. La belle Hélène was so popular that several dishes named in her honor appeared on menus across Paris (tournedos belle Helene, Sole belle Helene, etc.).
Poires Belle Helene
- 1- quart Water
- 2 cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 Vanilla Beans cut in half lengthwise
- 3 Cardamom Pods crushed (optional)
- 1 Star Anise optional
- 1 Cinnamon Stick optional
- 4 Pears peeled and cored through the bottom with a melon baller
- 1/2 cup Heavy cream
- 3 ounces Bittersweet chocolate chips
- 4 Scoops of Vanilla Ice cream
To Poach the Pears:
- Bring water, sugar, and vanilla to a rapid boil in a non-reactive pan. Add the optional spices if you are using them. Add the pears to the syrup and cook over medium-low heat until they are easily pierced with a paring knife. Cool and store the pears in the syrup until ready to serve. The cooking time varies wildly on how ripe or unripe your pears are. Mine generally take about 10 to 20 minutes.
To make the Chocolate Sauce:
- Bring cream to a boil and pour over chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Use immediately. If the sauce is too thick add a touch more cream.
To serve Pears Belle Helene:
- Put a poached pear on a plate along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Pour the hot chocolate sauce over the pears at the table. Enjoy.