Poires Belle Helene – Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce

Poires Belle Helene - Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce - A Cookbook CollectionPurists look away now, I had run out of vanilla ice cream so I used cookie dough ice cream! It works 🙂

I nearly forgot to post a chocolate recipe for April! So this one is getting in by the skin of it’s teeth.

Pear and chocolate is a classic combination and this French recipe showcases this perfectly. It even converted a pear sceptic! Also, I had a bunch of pears in the fridge and sometimes the only way to make them edible is to poach them. I have taken guidance from several cooks for this, including Nigella and Delia. I love poached pears, whether it is in a  sweet recipe like this or savoury poached in red wine with a blue cheese. This dark chocolate sauce is very decadent and complements the pears really well. If it is too dark for you, you could add some golden syrup but try it first with some pear before you do this.

The pears can be poached in advance and then stored in the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days, so this would be a good dessert to use if you have a group of people calling over.

Serve 4




For the pears

  • 4 firm pears – I used a mix of Conference and Williams pears
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 lemon
  • 125g of caster sugar or vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract if not using vanilla sugar

For the Chocolate Sauce

  • 250ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To serve (optional)

Chopped pistachios or toasted flaked almonds, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Poires Belle Helene - Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce -A Cookbook Collection


  • First, find a saucepan that will hold your pears upright and snugly, with not too much room.
  • Zest the lemon and make a syrup by adding the zest, water, sugar and vanilla to the pan and bring to a simmer to infuse.
  • Then peel the pears and sprinkle over the juice of the lemon to stop them from turning brown while you are prepping them.
  • Slice a small piece off the bottom of the pear so that they will stand and use the peeler to remove the tough core at the bottom.
  • When all of the sugar has dissolved in the syrup, place the pears into the pan, standing upright. Bring it back to a simmer and then clamp a lid on and allow the pears to cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Check the pears with a thin skewer, they are cooked when they are tender and can easily be pierced. You don’t want them to go mushy. Keep an eye on them, how long they will take to cook depends on the variety and ripeness of pear used (some of mine took 30 minutes).
  • Take the pears off the heat and allow them to cool in the syrup.
  • In the meantime, make the chocolate sauce. You can use a bain marie but when I am making a ganache I prefer to heat the cream and add the chocolate. So take a heavy saucepan – cast iron is ideal – and heat the cream and vanilla over a gentle heat. Do not allow the cream to boil.
  • While it is heating finely chop the chocolate. When the cream is warm take it off the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Stir until all of the chocolate has melted and the sauce is thick and glossy. If the mixture looks like it is about to split, pour in a little more cream and stir vigorously. Take about 50ml of the syrup from the poached pears and add it to the sauce. It will make the sauce lovely and glossy.
  • Plate the poached pear, pour over some warm chocolate sauce or serve it in a little jug to the side if you are very fancy!
  • Add a scoop of ice cream and sprinkle over the chopped nuts. Serve immediately.


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