Chef Jason Roberts

Poire belle Hélène - Pears with Chocolate Sauce

Chef Jason

Pears are basically in season all year, with only the fluctuation of price and quality to tell us different. They are definitely at their best come autumn, with several varieties to choose from: Anjou (both red and green), Bartlett (both red and green), Bosc, Comice, etc.

One of the most indulgent ways to eat a pear is to poach it, cover it in warm chocolate sauce and scatter with butter-toasted almonds or crystallized violets. It's called Poire belle Hélène, a classic French dish whose name is derived from the famous operetta by Offenbach.

Serves 6


For the Pears

1 liter (1 3/4 pints cold water)

750g (1 3/4 lb) sugar

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seed scraped and reserved

6 medium sized pears

For the Chocolate Sauce

70g (2 1/2 oz) caster sugar

1/2 cup (50g/1 3/4oz) unsweetened cocoa

175ml (5 1/2 fl oz) warm water

15g (1/2 oz) butter

For the Almonds

50g (1 3/4oz butter)

3 tbs flaked almonds


For the Pears

In a pot that is big enough to hold all of the pear ingredients, place everything except the pears. Stir until the sugar has almost dissolved.

Peel the pears, leave whole and place into the liquid. Cover with a piece of parchment paper to eliminate any moisture loss, place over heat and bring to a boil. Once the pears have reached the boiling point, remove from heat and allow to cool in the same pot. Do not refrigerate as this could affect their sensuous texture. Once cooled to room temperature, you may refrigerate for up to 5 days for later use.

For the Chocolate Sauce

Place the sugar, cocoa and water in a thick based saucepan and whisk until combined. Bring to a boil over a gentle heat then reduce the temperature to a simmer and continue to cook for a further two minutes. Whisk in the butter, a little at a time, and cook for another minute. Keep sauce warm until ready to serve.

For the Almonds

Heat butter in a small frying pan until foaming. Add the almonds and gently toss through the butter until golden. Strain off the butter.


To Serve

Place a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream into a shallow bowl. Place a poached pear alongside. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the pear, along with a scatter of the toasted almonds or the crystallized violets, if available.