• 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.

Serves
4

Preparation

20min

Cooking

40min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 3.4 (7 votes)
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Ingredients

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.

Instructions

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.

 

Note
• 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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