I know, it feels a bit pretentious using the French name for food. Roughly translated, 'Poires Belle Helene' means 'pretty Helen's pears', which sounds rather more like a euphemism than a dessert, so I'm sticking with the French on this one. The pears at my local fruit farm is still quite small, but the moment they start selling them, I have to buy some and this dessert is the perfect excuse!
I can't walk outside at the moment without being hit by the smell of lavender so I had to use some in this recipe - lavender and pears are a match made in heaven. If you don't have any lavender in your garden and your neighbours aren't cool with you 'borrowing' some of theirs, you can buy dried lavender in most spice sections of your supermarket, Barts do one.
- 6 firm pears, peeled
- 200g caster sugar
- 1l water
- 2 tsp lavender flowers
- 1 vanilla pod, split lenthways
- 150g dark chocolate
- 80ml double cream
- 10g unsalted butter
- Cut a little bit off the base of each pear so that they stand upright.
- Put the sugar, water, lavender flowers and vanilla pod in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the pears and simmer for about 20 minutes, until tender (pop a piece of baking paper or a plate on top of the pears to keep them submerged). Leave to cool in the syrup.
- Put the chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl and set it above a saucepan half-filled with just simmering water. Stir all the time until the chocolate and butter are melted and you have a glossy sauce.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.