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Spice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

Pair of Pears with ChocolateSpice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

Now that you’ve decided not to go out to some restaurant to spend a bunch of money on a Valentine’s Day prix fixe or to have a private chef fix a romantic meal à deux, you’ve got to figure out how to pull something together for next Friday night’s dinner to show your sweetie how much you care about him/her.  Sure, you can order up a rotisserie chicken and pick up some side dishes from the local gourmet food store, but what about dessert?  Chocolate, of course, is on the menu, but what about making something to impress just a little bit, to show that you did put some effort into making the meal a special one.  That’s where these Spice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce come into the picture.

Spiced sugar syrupPoaching liquid

This dish is composed of several easy steps.  First is to create a poaching liquid for the pears of simple syrup combined with allspice berries, star anise pods, a cinnamon stick, and orange peel, giving the fruit a luxurious texture and delicate, exotic spiced perfume.  A rich, velvety chocolate sauce is poured around the center of the plate.  Then, pears are placed on a mound of creamy mascarpone cheese with finely chopped toasted hazelnuts as the base.  This dessert should be just the thing to win your honey’s heart this Valentine’s Day.

Spice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

Prep time: 30 minutes

Serving size: 2 portions

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. Hazelnuts

250 g White Sugar

250 g Water

1 Bosc Pear

4 Allspice berries

2 Star Anise pods

1 Cinnamon stick

Peel of 1/2 Orange

100 ml Heavy Cream

100 ml Whole Milk

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 Tbsp. Confectioner’s Sugar

100 g Semi-sweet Chocolate (I used a bar with 70% cocoa.)

2 Tbsp. Mascarpone

1 tsp. Confectioner’s Sugar

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

IngredientsGetting started

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put hazelnuts on a baking sheet and cook for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.  Set aside to cool.  Place sugar and water in heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the water is simmering.  You can stir it with a wooden spoon if the sugar seems to be hanging around on the bottom of the pan.  Add allspice berries, star anise pods, cinnamon stick, and orange peel.  Peel and core the pear and cut it in half.

Poaching pearsPoaching pears in spiced syrup

Place the halves, cut side up, in the spiced syrup to cook for 15 minutes until they are soft but not mushy.  The point of a knife or a cake tester should easily go through them.  Let the pears cool for 5 minutes in the syrup and then remove them.  Strain and reserve the poaching liquid.  This makes a great syrup for tea or a base for cocktails.  While the pears are cooking and cooling, make the chocolate sauce.

Chocolate sauceChocolate sauce

Heat up heavy cream and milk together on low heat until bubbles are on the side of the liquid.  Don’t bring it to a boil.  Add vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar.  If using a bar of chocolate, break it into pieces and add it to the hot cream-milk mixture.  Stir with a whisk until chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.  Turn off the heat and set aside.  [At this point, the pears and chocolate can be refrigerated until ready to serve.  Pour chocolate in a pan or reheat in the microwave just before putting on the plate.]

Mascarpone addedChopped hazelnuts and mascarpone

To serve, place a mound of finely chopped hazelnuts on the center of a large plate.  Mix mascarpone with 1 tsp. confectioner’s sugar, and put 2 dollops of mascarpone, of about 1 tsp. each, on top of the hazelnuts.  Then, spoon chocolate sauce around the center of the plate, sort of moat-like around the chopped hazelnuts and mascarpone.  Slice pear halves lengthwise and place them on top of the mascarpone so that it isn’t visible.  Garnish with a sprig of mint, if desired.

Pears on tableSpice Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce

If you like, you can also serve this dish on two separate plates, but it is a little more romantic to present it on one and to share it.

Buon appetito!

Kitchen Witch Tip:

Coring pear

You know that melon baller that’s stuck in the back of your kitchen utensils drawer?  Well, it makes a great way to core apples and pears, making them easier to cut cleanly in half.