Michel Roux Jr’s poached pears with chocolate almond sauce

Michel Roux Jr’s poached pears with chocolate almond sauce
  • Serves icon Serves 4
  • Time icon Hands-on time 20 min, cooking time 20 min

Looking for an easy dinner party dessert? Look no further! Michel Roux Jr says “I love poached pears – they’re so versatile. This recipe has vanilla in the syrup, but you could use cinnamon, allspice and star anise, or flavour the syrup with wine or a little bit of lemon zest. There are a hundred and one different ways to poach a pear. And don’t throw away the poaching syrup – you can use it as a cordial or in a cocktail.”

For more pear recipes, have a browse through our collection of ideas here.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
486kcals
Fat
20.7g (8.2g saturated)
Protein
8.3g
Carbohydrates
63g (60.9g sugars)
Fibre
6.8g
Calories
486kcals
Fat
20.7g (8.2g saturated)
Protein
8.3g
Carbohydrates
63g (60.9g sugars)
Fibre
6.8g

Ingredients

  • 350g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • 4 williams pears, or similar
  • Whipped cream to serve (optional)

For the chocolate almond sauce

  • 60g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 40g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 60g blanched almonds, toasted and chopped

Method

  1. Put the sugar, vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan with 500ml water and bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Peel the pears (see FAQs) and remove their cores from the base, then lower them into the simmering syrup.
  2. Cover the pears with a circle of baking paper (see Tips), then simmer gently until a knife pierces the pear easily – the exact time will depend on the ripeness of the pear, but start checking after 8 minutes. Leave the pears in the syrup to cool slightly while you make the sauce.
  3. For the sauce, put the cocoa powder and sugar in a pan with 250ml water, then bring to the boil, whisking vigorously. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the butter and chocolate (see FAQs), then stir in the chopped almonds.
  4. Serve the pears warm with the chocolate sauce and, if you’re feeling indulgent, whipped cream.

FAQs

What pears should I use?
You can poach any pear. My preference is for williams pears, but conference or any pear in season will do. They should be a little bit firm, not ripe and ready to eat.

How do I peel them neatly?
Peel the pears with a good peeler as opposed to using a knife. You can rub them with a clean scourer to smooth the edges if you want to – but you’d probably only do that for a restaurant, not if you’re cooking this at home.

What should I look for when cooking them?
They mustn’t boil. When you’re making your syrup, it’s brought to the boil, but your pears just gently simmer. Use a skewer or point of a knife to test that they’re soft all the way through, but not turning to mush. Never fear, though: if they go mushy, you can still eat them – it becomes a compote!

Why cool the pears in the syrup?
It carries on cooking them gently and means they get all the flavour from the syrup.

What other fruit can I poach?
You can more or less poach any fruit in this manner – do apples in exactly the same way. Or get a fresh pineapple, trim it down, make big chunky rings or quarters and poach them.

Why is there no cream in the sauce?
The idea is not to make it too rich. There’s just a little bit of butter, which gives a nice gloss. Some chocolate sauces have milk or cream added, but for me that’s too heavy and cloying. It’s more like a ganache, whereas this is a proper sauce. You get the most amazing true chocolate flavour – sometimes if you add cream or milk, it masks the flavour of the chocolate.

What chocolate should I use?
A high cocoa solids bitter chocolate – 70-plus per cent. And use good quality cocoa powder too, not sweetened cocoa powder.

Does it matter when and how I add the chocolate?
? Boil the water with the sugar until it’s dissolved, take it off the heat and immediately add your chocolate – grated, broken into pieces or as pistoles or buttons – with the butter and whisk in.

Are there any pitfalls to avoid?
Add the chocolate off the heat, otherwise it’ll catch and burn. Don’t put the sauce back on the heat – just keep it in a warm place. If it starts to set, gently melt it in the microwave or over a double boiler.

Help, I’ve got leftover sauce!
It’s great on vanilla ice cream – and spread on toast.

delicious. tips

  1. Baking paper that’s cut to fit inside a pan, covering the contents, is known as a cartouche – it allows the pears to cook without the liquid reducing too much. Make sure the baking paper is touching the surface of the liquid.

  2. You can cook the pears and make the chocolate sauce up to 3 days in advance. Cover and keep separately in the fridge (leave the pears in the syrup). Melt the sauce slowly in the microwave or in a double boiler and gently warm the pears through in the syrup before serving.

  3. Michel says: “Poached pears were something of a regular dessert at the old Le Gavroche, run by my dad and uncle, and they still feature in the restaurant today. We had them on the menu recently, poached in red wine. It’s something you don’t see enough on menus. This recipe is similar to one I’ve taught at cookery school Sauce by The Langham, where I’ve had people say, “There’s no milk or cream in your chocolate sauce?” “Trust me,” I say, and people are blown away because the chocolate’s intense flavour comes through so well. I’m a huge fan of dark chocolate and in this sauce, it’s not masked by anything else”

Recipe By

Michel Roux Jr

A scion of the Roux family fine-dining dynasty, Michel began his career with
a patisserie apprenticeship in Paris. For nearly 30 years he’s been chef-patron
of two-Michelin-star restaurant Le Gavroche, opened in 1967 by his late father, Albert, and uncle, Michel Sr. He also oversees the food at London hotel The Langham and teaches at its cookery school, Sauce by The Langham.
Sauce offers full day and shorter ‘building block’ courses on everything from pasta to French cuisine, taught by The Langham’s expert chefs. Michel Roux Jr’s classes are a chance to learn from the main man, while preparing a menu
of his design. saucebylangham.com

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