• Poire Belle Helène with warm chocolate sauce (Chris Abbott)Source: Chris Abbott

This dish is named after the opera, La Belle Helen (the beautiful Helen) by Offenbach – parodying the story of Helen's elopement with Paris, the event that kicked off the Trojan War. You will need an ice cream machine to complete this French classic.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (7 votes)


Vanilla bean ice-cream

  • 375 ml (1½ cups) pouring cream
  • 375 ml (1½ cups) milk
  • 3 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped, beans reserved
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 150 g caster sugar

Poire Belle Helene

  • 350 g caster sugar
  • 4 William pears, in perfect condition

Chocolate sauce

  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) milk
  • 1 tbsp pouring cream
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 100 g couverture dark chocolate, chopped (see note)
  • 15 g unsalted butter

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.


Chilling time: 2 hours

Wine pairing: Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny, 20 YO (serve slightly chilled, 12-14 degrees Celsius)


1. For the vanilla bean ice-cream, place the cream, milk and vanilla seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil over low-medium heat.

2. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until thick and well combined. Whisking continuously but slowly, gradually pour in one-third of the hot cream mixture until well combined. Return to the pan with the remaining cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until the mixture reaches 80°C –85°C or until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl sitting in a larger bowl of iced water. Stand until cool, whisking occasionally. When cold, pour into a jug and refrigerate for another hour or until chilled. Churn the mixture in an ice-cream machine following the manufacturer's instructions, then place in the freezer until ready to serve. Makes 1.2 litres ice-cream.

3. Meanwhile, for the pears, place the sugar and reserved vanilla beans in a medium saucepan with 700 ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Using a Parisian scoop or melon baller, core the pears, then carefully peel, leaving the stem intact. Add the pears to the simmering syrup and poach for 20 minutes or until a small knife inserts easily. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the syrup. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon, place in a shallow dish and refrigerate until required.

4. For the chocolate sauce, just before serving, place the milk, cream and honey in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the butter.

5. To serve, place a pear in each serving bowl and add a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream alongside. Pour over the warm chocolate sauce and serve immediately.


• Couverture chocolate, unlike regular chocolate, is ground to a finer texture during the production process and contains a greater percentage of cocoa butter relative to the other ingredients. You can often buy directly from a specific company's website or visit chocolate distributors. Many fine chocolate makers produce couverture chocolate, including Callebaut, Lindt, and Valrhona.


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