(about 6-8 servings)
If you need a dessert that travels well or something to end a heavy meal, this recipe might work for you. Peeled D'Anjou pears are poached in a spiced, not too sweet liquid, then served with a dark chocolate sauce. The combination is terrific.
1 medium orange
1 small lemon
2 cups white wine
2 cups water
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 star anise
1 3" cinnamon stick
5 allspice berries
6 D'Anjou pears
With a sharp knife carefully cut the peels off both the orange and lemon taking care to get as little of the white pith as possible. When you have removed the peels, squeeze the juice from both fruits and pour into a pot.
Add the wine, water, honey, star anise, cinnamon stick and allspice berries. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Don't worry if it foams up a bit.
Meanwhile, peel the pears. Cut them in half lengthwise and remove the cores.
Drop the pears into the hot liquid and gently simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the fruit can easily be pierced with a sharp knife. Remove the pears from the pot and increase the heat slightly.
Simmer the liquid until it has reduced to about a cup; about 30 minutes. Strain the sauce. It will not thicken but it will be a very flavorful concentrated liquid. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate sauce.
dark chocolate sauce
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 lb dark (72% cacao) chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp dark rum or vanilla extract
Heat the cream until you notice small bubbles forming around the edges, Don't allow the cream to come to a boil.
Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate. Continue stirring until the chocolate has completely melted and you have a smooth sauce. Stir in the rum or vanilla extract.
Pour the sauce into a **small glass jar if you aren't using it right away.
To serve, place one or two pear halves onto a plate or into small bowl. Drizzle about 1-2 tablespoons of the reduced poaching sauce over the pears followed by a tablespoon or two of the chocolate sauce.
**If the chocolate sauce has thickened too much as it cooled, then don't reheat it on the stove top or microwave. If the sauce gets too hot it might curdle. Just pour some hot tap water into a bowl and then place the jar with the sauce into the hot bath for about 2 minutes. The water shouldn't come up all the way to the top; about two thirds of the way up is fine.