Thursday, March 15, 2012

National Pears Hélène Day

Today is National Pears Hélène Day. French Chef Auguste Escoffier created this dessert, in 1870, as his tribute to composer Jacques Offenbach's opera La belle Hélène.

Pear Hélène, or as the French say Poire Belle-Hélène, is a French dessert of pear halves simmered in a sweet broth of cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and water, topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and almonds. Sometimes it is served with a little cinnamon sugar and original version was served with candies violets, but today it is more commonly served with sliced almonds.

Pear Hélène is typically served as an after dinner dessert.

The recipe below is today's traditional Pears Hélène


4 ripe, firm unblemished pears (Bartlett)
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. water
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 c. chocolate sauce
1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds
Remove the core and stem from each of the pears. Peel the pears. Cut the pears in half lengthwise. Using a melon ball cutter remove the center core. Cut away the bottom center line leading from the core to the stem end. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer five minutes. Add the pears and vanilla and simmer uncovered until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pears from the heat and let them cool in the syrup. Place one scoop of ice cream in the pear, then the chocolate sauce over it. Top with almonds.
For more fantastic French dessert recipes take a look at Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful

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