• Pears Belle Hélène (Poires Belle Hélène) (Taste le Tour with Gabriel Gaté)

This classic French dessert of poached pears served with vanilla ice cream and a hot chocolate sauce was created by the legendary French chef, Auguste Escoffier, in 1864. 






Skill level

Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

During my youth, it was one of the most popular restaurant desserts in France.


  • 400 g sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split 
  • 3 pieces of orange rind, about 5 cm long
  • 4 firm pears (see note)
  • 30 ml thin cream
  • 50 ml milk
  • 100 g dark cooking chocolate (50-70 % cocoa solids), chopped
  • ½ litre vanilla ice-cream
  • 80 g flaked almonds, toasted 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 2 hours

Place 1-litre water, the sugar, vanilla bean and orange rind in a saucepan just large enough to fit the pears standing upright. Bring to the boil over medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stalk intact. Once the syrup has been simmering for 10 minutes, add the peeled pears, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pears to cool in the liquid.

Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over low-medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat.

Drain the pears and place in 4 bowls with 1-2 scoops of ice-cream. Spoon a little chocolate sauce over the top of each pear, sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve immediately.

• I have successfully made this dessert using Williams, Packham and Beurre Bosc pears.

• I find quality cooking chocolate in the form of buds easier to use.

Taste le Tour with Gabriel Gaté starts Saturday 7 July 2018 on SBS and then on SBS On Demand and finishes 29 July 2018. Visit the Taste le Tour website to catch-up on episodes, cook up his recipes or find out more about the series.