Seckel Pears Belle-Hélène

Mike Nadelman
They say Auguste Escoffier created this dish in honor of the opera, La Belle Helen, but we chefs know the real reason. How else are you going to use up bruised pears in such a delicious and beautiful way?
The cooking time depends entirely on the ripeness of the pears; I like to leave Seckel pears whole since we have a big tree outside our house and they are in abundance but scarred on the outside. but if these are unavailable, use about 1¼ pounds of a larger pear variety (like Bosc) and peel, quarter, and core them before cooking. Make sure to select pears of about the same ripeness; otherwise, some will fall apart before others cook through. This dessert can be made ahead and will keep, refrigerated, for several days. Serve with a slice or pound cake if warm, add rich vanilla Ice Cream
0 from 0 votes
Course Desert
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup About ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 6 medium Seckel pears about 1¼ pounds total, peeled, seeded cut into even-sized pieces
  • 2 cups brewed coffee Optional
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch or corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup cream sherry sweet Vermouth, Madeira, or port wine
  • 4 slices pound cake
  • 2 tablespoons tablespoons cocoa nibs or slivered chocolate garnish
  • 4 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 6 to 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.
  • Put the pears, coffee, brown sugar, and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. If not using coffee, add some of the sherry Boil gently, covered, until the pears are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pears to a bowl.
  • Boil the syrup to reduce it, if necessary, to about ¾ cup. Dissolve the potato or corn starch in a little cold water, add to the syrup, and return to a boil. Pour over the pears, add the sherry, and mix well. Cover and cool.
  • To serve, put a slice of pound cake in each of four dessert bowls, with a scoop of ice cream. Sit a pear on top, coat with the syrup, and garnish with the almonds, cocoa nibs or grated chocolate, and mint.

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