Pear La Belle Helene

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Belgium 2011 049This classic French dessert, what I ate in Bruxelles first, was not only striking but it was punched up with the essence of cinnamon.

Actually La Belle Helene dessert was created first around 1864 by Auguste Escoffier who named it after the operetta La belle Hélène by Jacques Offenbach.

I prepared the dessert from pears poached in sugar syrup and I served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and crystallized violets.

But there is a simpler version, in which poached pears could be replaced with canned pears and crystallized violets with sliced almonds.

Ingredients: 2 cinnamon sticks, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 ½ cups water, divided, 4 firm Bosc pears, cut lengthwise with stem intact and cored, 8 small scoops vanilla ice cream, Chocolate sauce, for drizzling

Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine the cinnamon sticks, sugar, and ½ cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-5 minutes, until it becomes thick like syrup and turns golden brown. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and gently whisk in the remaining 2 cups water, until the syrup is completely incorporated into the water.

Add the prepared pears to the syrup mixture and bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Test doneness with a knife prick in the thickest part of the fruit; the pears are poached when they are just cooked through, but not completely soft. Allow the pears to cool in the syrup until they are room temperature. Serve with 2 small scoops of ice cream and drizzle of chocolate sauce.


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