Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fast and French - Poires Belle Helene

Time changes lots of things and even our tastes and preferences. Before I thought of poached pears as of a flat and easy dessert, and that's maybe why I hadn't give them a try so far. But lately my approach to food (and more generally desserts) has changed and I started to appreciate these easy looking and yet elegant recipes, using less ingredients, which allows to concentrate and value the natural flavours.
Despite their simplicity the Poires Belle Helene are an incontestably elegant dessert, that one can indulge itself with, without a remorse. Of course the quantity also matters.

The history of this dessert goes back to 19th century in Paris and was named by Offenbach's opera of the same name.
On the other hand, my final obsession among herbs is cardamom, which I kinda neglected before, but now I am amazed by its versatility and multi-use, as it can be used to flavour rices and curries and in the same time is perfect for desserts.
Its aroma is so nice and sweet that it somehow reminds me of the leaves of a plant my grandmother used to put in pear compotes, called Rose geranium, which added a wonderful flavour to the pears.

So I was curious to see how the cardamom will work for flavouring the fruit instead of the overused (by me) vanilla. I put the whole cardamom seeds in the boiling sugar syrup with the pears and simmered for some 20 minutes, allowing the flavours to combine well.
The try was great and the spiced poached pears worked even well with the chocolate sauce.

So, you need (for 2):

4 small (or 1 large) ripe but firm pears
1 l of water
100 gr sugar
seeds from 3 cardamom pods

for the chocolate sauce

50 gr Belgium cooking chocolate
90 gr Creme fraiche

Bring the water and sugar to the boil, add the peeled pears with reserved stalks, and cardamom. The pears should be submerged in the syrup. Lower heat and leave to simmer for some 20 minutes. Try the pears with a fork to check if they are tender enough, and leave them to cool in the syrup.
In the meantime melt the chocolate, out it in a sauce pan and add the creme fraiche, stirring and heating gently, until every thing is well combined.
At the end place the pears in a plate and pour the chocolate sauce over them. Nothing more, to cherish this dessert in its pure.


Kate / Kajal said...

Alita ... u are so talented ! that looks so freakin exquisite. I love these chocolaty poached pears. I'm with you in choosing simple yet elegant desserts. Thats when u enjoy it the most.

Brilynn said...

Beautiful pics! Those look delicious!

Alita said...

Thank you girls!

Kate, you're flattering me :P

Hillary said...

You thought poached pears were flat and easy?! I'd be impressed anytime someone made poached pears, and yours are VERY impressive!

Mango Power Girl said...

These look so beautiful, and they look like you slaved over them ;) I love the combination of flavors here, of course cardamom. Thanks for sharing bit of the history, makes it even more interesting (not that it needs it) I am bookmarking this one!

Alita said...

@Hillary, well, yes :) I know more complicated recipes :D
But this does not take from their beautiful appearance, not mentioning the heavenly taste! :)

@Mango Power Girl, thank you and welcome! :)

Tartelette said...

My favorite dessert! When I was a kid I thought my dad had created those just for me (my first name) until I discovered the truth. He is my hero though! Beautiful shots!

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