Well, finally..after the entrée, and the main course, we have got to the dessert with these traditionally French Belle Hélène Pears (Poires Belle Hélène). Is there a bistro or a brasserie in France that will not have among other mouth-watering “gourmandises”, these decandent pears dressed in melted chocolate, with vanilla ice-cream and Chantilly cream “snowed” with almond flakes? Not many….
But today’s version is “revisitée”, that means that I took my license to make some changes..What’s more, the way of presenting this dessert is what is called now in France “dessert à l’assiette”, i.e. a playful and why not whimsical arrangement of the elements in a dessert….I would say an opportunity to show personality, taste, or to transmit a concept, an idea....
For the poached pears, you will need:
* pears, 2 (firm, not to ripe)
* water, 600gr
* sugar, 60 gr
* cinnamon, 1 stick
* lemon, 1/2
* vanilla, 1 pod, cut lengthwise and grated
* star anise, 1
Put the water and sugar in a tall saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Peel the pears, keeping the pod. Place the pears in the saucepan, together with the lemon, and the spice. Lower the heat to simmer. Poach for 15′ aprox. Check with a toothpick. Let them cool in the syrup.
For the vanilla ice-cream (1 litre), you will need:
* whole milk, 150 ml
* cream, 500 ml
* vanille, a pod, cut lengthwise and grated
* egg yolks, 7
* sugar, 150 gr
In a saucepan, place the milk, cream, and the vanilla pod. Take it to a boil. Turn off the heat and let it infuse for 30′. Sieve. In another saucepan, whisk the yokes and sugar until pale and thick; slowly pour the milk/cream into the yolks (the milk shouldn’t be hot!!!), stir well. Take the saucepan to low heat, constantly stirring until the mixture coats the back of the spoon (aprox 80°C, it shouldn’t boil !!!) Good !! You have made a “crème anglaise”. Now put it to “bain Marie inverse”, i.e. fill a bowl with water and ice-cubes, and put inside a bowl with your cream…like this, you will stop the cooking process. Let it cool. If you have the time, place it in the refrigerator 12 hours. Make the icecream following your ice-cream maker instructions.
For the Pain d’épice, you will need:
* egg, 4
* butter, soft, 250 gr
* all-purpose flour, 250 gr
* cane sugar (cassonade), 200 gr
* almond flour, 100 gr
* baking powder, 7gr
* honey, 2 tablespoons
* cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, 1/2 coffeespoon each.
* star anise, 1
Pre-heat oven at 180°C. Coat a cake mold with baking spray. In a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. Then, fold in the spices and honey. Sift the flours, and baking powder, and add by hand to the batter. Put it in the mold. Bake for 45/50′. Let it cool.