In the orthodox countries like mine, we celebrate Saints Constantin and his mother Elena on the 21st of May, so the persons named like that are phoned or told “Happy name’s day!”. As I am Elena, I was told “Happy name’s day!” a lot yesterday, in fact, most of the day I spent it in the phone answering and talking. It is a traditional custom to do that, or to visit friends or relatives to wish them the same. I had visitors, of course, a couple of friends and I had a nice day. A big surprise expected me when all my colleagues from a previous job wished me in chorus on the phone “Happy name’s day!”. I could hear them crying. That was so nice of them and totally unexpected.
Because of this beautiful name I thought of a recipe that it bears it and I came with a very special one that I made in London for the first time, years ago. I made it at home again, just once, for another special occasion and my mom had the chance to eat something fine, elegant, exquisite and delicious. And not just her.
I have found the recipe in “Good Housekeeping – All Colour Party Cookbook”, 1992 at the “Stunning Desserts” chapter. Stunning it is. But at home I was not entirely satisfied with what I had so I searched on the Internet and found another recipe and now I am presenting a mix from both. In my humble opinion this is one of the best recipe I have eaten and the feeling can’t be described. When I talk about food, about the recipe I have tried I feel them again, with all that it comes along. A good food gives you something special, a happiness and a smile on your face. If I may say so, it is as satisfying as making love.
Poires Belle Helene
- 4 cooking pears (preferably Conference)
- 50 g (2 oz) sugar
- 900 ml (1 1/2 pints) water
- lemon rind and lemon juice from a whole lemon
- 150 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (high quality and at least 70 % cocoa)
- 3 tbsp orange-flavoured liqueur or Poire William liqueur
- 1 or 2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream per person (optional)
- a few almond cookies (thin and crisp, no matter what shape you choose, or more authentic “tuiles aux amandes”)
- 200 ml double cream
- vanilla sugar
- Put the sugar, water, lemon rind and lemon juice in a deep pot and heat gently, without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.
- Peel the pears quickly (to prevent discoloration), leaving the stalks on. Cut out the cores from the bottom and level them so that the pears will stand upright.
- Submerge the pears if possible in the pot and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes on medium heat or until tender. Drain the pear, cover and keep the juice. Let them both cool down.
- Make the chocolate sauce. Bring the pear juice to a boil in a small pot and allow it to evaporate until half of the volume is left. Discard the lemon rind from the syrup. Place the small pot in a bigger one, half full of water (“Bain Marie”) and place over medium heat without allowing the water to boil. Cut the chocolate into small pieces and melt it in the warm pear syrup, stirring until smooth and shiny. Add Poire William or orange-flavoured liqueur for a special twist. And yes, you can dip a finger to taste. ONCE. 😉
- In another bowl, whip double cream with vanilla sugar to make crème Chantilly.
- To assemble, place one pear in each dish, upright. Add 1 or 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Pour the chocolate sauce on the pear and ice cream. Add crème Chantilly. Stick 1 or 2 almonds thins in the ice cream.
- Serve immediately. I know you can’t wait to taste. But wait: there is somebody missing. Yes, your loved ones.