Pear Belle Helene

with mascarpone
Bruno Menia from The Beaconsfield School
Prep time: 
30 mins
Cook time: 
30 mins
  • 6 firm Bartlett pears or other dessert variety
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or fresh vanilla pod
  • 250g bittersweet (high cocoa %) chocolate
  • 1/2 cup strong black coffee or 1 tsp instant coffee in 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 150g superfine sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • mascarpone or ice cream to serve
  1. Peel and slice a flat base to the pears so they stand up and then sprinkle over them the lemon juice to stop them from discolouring.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan (in which the pears will fit in 1 layer - otherwise cook them in batches) put 1 and a 1/4 cups of water, the sugar, and the vanilla bean, if using. Bring to a boil, stirring every now and again to make sure the sugar dissolves.
  3. Lower the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, if using instead of the vanilla bean.
  4. Stand the pears in the liquid, and raise the heat again so that the syrup boils up and the pears are covered by it. You may need to spoon the syrup over.
  5. After half a minute or so, lower the heat, then cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes; turn the pears, cover the pan again, and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  6. Continue poaching until the pears are cooked and translucent; they should feel tender (but not soggy) when pierced. They may need more or less cooking time - it depends on the pears. Take off the heat, keep covered, and leave to cool.
  7. Now reduce the cooking liquid into a syrup and set aside.
  8. For the chocolate sauce: place the chocolate, broken up into small pieces, in a thick-bottomed pan with the coffee and sugar and melt over a low heat, stirring occasionally.
  9. Then pour in the cream, still stirring, and when it is very hot pour into a warmed sauceboat or a bowl with a ladle.
  10. Glaze the pears with by rolling them around in the syrup.
  11. Serve with the warm chocolate sauce and mascarpone or ice-cream.