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Vanilla Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream (a.k.a. "Poire Belle Helene")

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 45 min
  • Prep: 35 min
  • Inactive: 45 min
  • Cook: 25 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Vanilla Poached Pears:

6 cups water

3 cups sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 lemon, zested

1 vanilla bean

6 firm pears such as Bosc or Bartlett

Chocolate Sauce:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 quart store-bought vanilla-bean ice cream

Wafer cookies, for serving


  1. Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add both the seeds and the pod to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  2. Peel the pears. Reduce the poaching liquid to a simmer and add the pears. Cook until just tender (the tip of a paring knife will go through the flesh of a pear with just a little resistance), about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the pears in the poaching liquid, until completely cooled, about 45 minutes.
  3. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Put the chocolate and butter into a medium-size bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy.
  4. Serve the pears with a scoop of ice cream, a little pear-poaching syrup and warm chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. Garnish with a wafer cookie and serve.