The trickiest part of this dish was coring the pears while leaving the stem intact. I had an apple corer which was an excellent idea in theory, but since I wasn’t removing the entire center, it would not actually pull out the core. So I ended up uaing it to nicely cut around the core, then coming in with a paring knife to actually break the chunk of core out. Doesn’t sound very elegant, but it worked, and really didn’t take as long as it might sound.
Then there was the pineapple flower garnish, which was supposed to take an hour to make and ended up taking more like 2 1/2 hours (HOW does one slice pineapple paper-thin??).
And the chocolate sauce, which you are supposed to make ‘Just before serving’ (because apparently it’s normal to stay in the kitchen the entire time your guests are arriving… don’t bother doing your hair, taking off your apron or greeting anyone! The chocolate sauce MUST be made last-minute!) I made a good 45 minutes ahead of time and it slightly crystallized. It was still delicious, but not as beautiful as it should have been.
Now that I’ve told you all of the faults of this lovely little dessert, here is the recipe!
6 pears, peeled and cored with the stem on (I used Bosc)
1 C sugar
2 C water
1 C dry sherry
1/2 vanilla bean, split
Juice of 1 lemon (3-4 Tbsp)
In a 4 quart pan, bring liquids and vanilla bean to a simmer. Add pears without crowding. I imagined them sitting upright in the pot, but because you’ve removed the core the air pocket inside makes them fall over. So just move them around a bit once in a while if they aren’t completely covered in liquid. Cover and poach 15-25 minutes until tender but still firm. A fork should go in easily, but you don’t want them collapsing into mush, obviously. Chill in the liquid, basting occasionally. I made these a day ahead and they were beautiful.
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3 C boiling water
3/4 C sugar
3 1/2 Tbsp corn syrup
Combine everything and boil 10 minutes without stirring. (YES this goes against everything the don’t-burn-the-chocolate freak in my soul ever learned, but… it didn’t burn. So weird.) Allow to cool 10 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla.
Have plates chilled ahead of time. Place a scoop of soft vanilla ice-cream on the plate (I pre-scooped and re-froze ice cream for quick assembly), top with a pear and slightly press down to hold it in place. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and, optionally, garnish with a pineapple flower.