Pears take centre stage on my fruit bowl during autumn and winter. I love eating them fresh from the hand, and adore their delicate flavour and elegant appearance in fruit-based desserts.
Pears, chocolate and hazelnuts team beautifully and, fortunately, pears are one of the few fruits that I can enjoy with my LPR issues. I can also tolerate small quantities of really good quality dark chocolate. Here, I've used semi sweet couverture in the form of 54.5% dark Callebaut callets. It seems to be an excellent chocolate for melting and covering. If you like less sweetness, you might like to use a chocolate with 70% cocoa solids.
My recipe is adapted from a dish in a cookbook titled La Dolce Vita by Ursula Ferrigno. I've made various amendments, including halving the quantity of sugar used. I've also eliminated the white wine and lemon used for poaching, my preference being a simple, not-too-sickly-sweet vanilla syrup. To the dark chocolate sauce, I've added Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, which adds a lovely depth of flavour to the sauce.
VANILLA POACHED PEARS WITH FRANGELICO CHOCOLATE SAUCE AND HAZELNUT CREAM
4 ripe Packham pears
a little lemon juice, to prevent browning
50g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
For the chocolate sauce:
70g dark chocolate callets
20g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Frangelico
For the hazelnut cream filling:
45mls double cream
50g hazelnuts, lightly toasted
Combine the water, caster sugar and vanilla bean in a medium sized saucepan and bring to simmering point.
Meanwhile, peel the pears and leave the stems intact. Using a small melon baller, remove the core from the base of each pear, and cut out any remaining core and seeds with a small paring knife. Sprinkle the prepared pears with some lemon juice to prevent the fruit from browning.
Lower the heat of the simmering vanilla syrup and place the pears, stems up, into the syrup. Cover the saucepan and poach the fruit gently for 15-20 minutes, until the pears are just tender. Baste occasionally with syrup during the cooking time. You want the fruit to drink in that lovely vanilla flavour.
Remove the pears from the syrup and place them onto a plate, allowing them to cool. Turn up the heat and simmer the syrup gently until it has reduced and is darker in colour. This may take 20 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Once the fruit is cool, lay each pear on its side, then take a sharp paring knife and slice from the bottom upwards. Do not cut right through to the stem. What you are doing here is making a 'cavity' for the hazelnut cream filling.
Pop the pre-toasted hazelnuts into a mortar and pestle and work them until they are roughly crushed (please see my images). If you don't have a mortar and pestle, simply chop the nuts.
Now, whip the cream to medium-firm peaks and then fold 3/4 of the crushed hazelnuts through the cream. Reserve some for sprinkling. Spoon some of the hazelnut cream into the cavity you've created in each pear. Stand the pears upright in your serving dish or dishes. At this stage, you can place the pears into the fridge just briefly.
Combine the chocolate callets and butter in a small saucepan and over low heat, melt the chocolate. Stir until combined. Now add the Frangelico. Remove from the heat and keep the sauce warm.
To serve, ladle some of the reduced vanilla syrup over each cream-filled pear, then spoon some chocolate Frangelico sauce over the top. Finish with the remaining crushed or chopped hazelnuts and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Note, the pears are just as divine simply poached and then served with the 'reduced' vanilla syrup poured over the top.
If you like cooking with pears, you might like to try my pot-roasted pears with vanilla; slow cooked pears with cinnamon, bay and vanilla; vanilla and saffron pear compote; vanilla-poached pears with salted butter caramel sauce; or the vanilla tea cake with baby pears.
Tell me dear readers and fellow cooks, do you celebrate pears when they are in season as much as I do? ❤❤❤
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.