Poached pears and chocolate
Recipe no. 52 by Natasha Pickowicz
Recipe ( Serves four )
4 small to medium-sized pears
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 branch fresh lavender (or similar, like rosemary)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, or similar
4 oz dark chocolate
Flaky sea salt
Add the sugar and water to a small pot and melt over low heat. Run a vegetable peeler from top to bottom of the pears, and transfer the peeled pears, and the strips, to the poaching liquid. Add the lavender branch on top. Bring the syrup up to a slight simmer; it should stay at a low heat for the pears to poach evenly throughout. When a knife tip slides into the fruit easily, the pears are done; check at about 30 minutes, depending on their size. Let the pears cool completely in their syrup. Add the vinegar and stir. Keep the pears submerged in their poaching liquid in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To serve, place a chilled pear in a small, shallow dish. Finely chop the chocolate and scatter over the pears. Add a pinch of flaky sea salt and a dash of olive oil. Eat immediately.
This preparation is inspired by Auguste Escoffier’s iconic Poire belle Hélène, a dessert that brings together poached pears, chocolate sauce, and vanilla ice cream, but there are so many other ways to enjoy this delicious and versatile preparation. Sliced thinly and arranged in a fan over almond frangipane or a sheet of puff pastry, poached pears add subtle perfume and a pleasing grainy texture to flaky pastries. For other ideas, serve with butter cookies and a strong blue cheese; chop into cubes and scatter over warm waffles; slice and scatter over a tangle of warm, wilted greens, like spinach, escarole, or frisee.