By this stage of the Dinner Party you should be feeling totally relaxed, especially in the knowledge that your beautiful little desserts have been totally prepped and are almost ready to go. So sit back, enjoy the flowing conversation, have another sip of that gorgeous wine… the oven will do the rest of the work for you.
Poaching pears is such a lovely way of celebrating this seasonal winter fruit. The spices I’ve used in the poaching syrup are some of my personal favourites… though feel free to adapt as you wish. Cardamom, cloves, allspice, ginger and citrus peel all go wonderfully too. With a dollop of cream or ice cream, poached pears can be a delicious dessert in their own right, but by taking them that one step further by surrounding them in a rich dark chocolate pudding, it lifts them to new heights.
We truly hope you’ve enjoyed our Winter Menu!
Poached Pear Chocolate Puddings | The Dinner Party Collective
For the poached pears:
- 8 Small Firm Pears (Beurre Bosc pears work well)
- 1½ Ltrs (6 Cups) Water
- 220g (1 Cup) Caster/Superfine Sugar
- 2 Star Anise
- 1 Cinnamon Stick (broken into pieces)
- 1 Vanilla Bean (split lengthways in half)
For the chocolate pudding:
- 100g (3oz) Dark (70% Cocoa) Chocolate (chopped)
- 100g (⅓ Cup + 1 Tablespoon) Unsalted Butter + a little extra for greasing the ramekins
- 4 Large Free-Range Eggs
- 100g (Scant ½ Cup) Caster (Superfine) Sugar
- 50g (⅓ Cup) Plain (All Purpose) Flour (sifted)
- Pinch of Salt
(Up to 2 days before) – Poach the pears:
Place the water, sugar and spices into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring now and then to ensure that the sugar has completely dissolved.
While the syrup is coming to the boil, peel each of the pears (leaving the stems attached) and carefully core each one from the base, using a paring knife. Be aware that the pears may start to go brown (oxidise) if you take too long in this process, so try to work quickly (but carefully). Another option is to have a bowl of water with some lemon juice squeezed into it, into which you place the peeled pears to sit, until all are peeled, cored and ready to go into the syrup.
Add the pears to the simmering syrup and allow them to cook (under a cartouche/circle of baking paper – which will help the pears cook evenly through – see photo below) over a gentle boil for about 15-20 minutes, until tender. This will vary depending on the size and variety of pears you’re using, so be sure to test to see if they’re ready by carefully checking one with a paring knife towards the base. If the knife pierces through with little resistance, then they’re done.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the pears to cool completely in the syrup. Refrigerate the pears immersed in the syrup until the day of the Dinner Party.
(In the morning or afternoon) – Make the chocolate pudding batter:
Lightly grease 8 x (¾ cup capacity) ramekins with a little softened butter.
Place the chocolate and butter into a heat-proof bowl and sit this above a saucepan of simmering water (ensuring that the water does not touch the base of the bowl). Stir gently to combine, as the chocolate and butter melt, then remove from the heat to cool a little.
Whisk the eggs together in a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle in the chocolate/butter mixture, whisking all the time as you do so. Fold in the sifted flour and sugar.
Place a poached pear into the centre of each prepared ramekin and then using a piping bag, pipe pudding batter around each pear, so that it reaches about three quarters of the way up each ramekin. Alternatively you could spoon in the batter carefully using a couple of teaspoons.
Cover the prepared puddings in cling film and place in the fridge until ready to bake.
At this stage, you can also reduce the poaching liquid to form a gently-spiced syrup to serve with the puddings. Place 750mls (3 Cups) of the liquid, along with any of the spices, into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer away, until the liquid has been reduced by two-thirds, leaving you approximately 250mls (1 cup) of liquid. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, before straining (to remove spices) and pouring into a serving jug. Set aside until you are ready to serve.
To bake the puddings:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and place a large baking tray on the middle shelf to heat up.
Place the ramekins onto the baking tray and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, then using a pastry brush, brush the pears lightly with a little of the reduced syrup, to give them a lovely, glossy finish.
Serve with double cream and/or vanilla ice cream and a little drizzle of the gently-spiced syrup.
Suggested Wine Pairings:
- Tawny Port, Australia
- Banyuls, France
- Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito, Italy
Recipe created by Margot from Gather and Graze
Link here to Appetiser | Winter Menu
Link here to Mains | Winter Menu
Link here to Full Wine Pairings | Winter Menu