Step by step recipes. Easy.

Poires Belle Helene Recipe

Poires Belle Helene Recipe

This dessert of poached pears, vanilla ice cream, and hot chocolate sauce dates from the nineteenth century, when it was created for the star of Offenbach’s opera, “La Belle Hélène” Getting Ahead: A good dessert to prepare ahead: the ice cream can be made and frozen up to 2 weeks in advance. The chocolate sauce can be refrigerated, and the pears kept, covered in their poaching liquid, in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. *plus 4 hours freezing time for the ice cream Order of Work:
  1. Make The Ice Cream

  2. Poach The Pears

  3. Make The Chocolate Sauce and Finish The Dish

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Desserts
Cuisine French
Servings 6
Calories 488 kcal


  • 2 lemons
  • 6 firm pears, total weight about 750 g (1 1/2 lb)
  • 1 1/4 pints (750 ml) water about
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 5 oz (150 g) caster sugar
  • fresh mint sprigs for decoration
  • #For The Vanilla Ice Cream#
  • 1 pint (625 ml) milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 5 oz (150 g) caster sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • (2 tbsp) 30 ml cornflour
  • 8floz (250 ml) double cream
  • #For The Chocolate Sauce#
  • 8 oz (250 g) plain chocolate
  • 4floz (125 ml) water
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) brandy


  • Put the milk in a medium , saucepan. Split the vanilla pod and add it to the milk. Bring the milk just to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand in a warm place, 10-15 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod.
  • Set aside one-quarter of the flavoured milk. Add the sugar to the remaining flavoured warm milk and stir, with the wooden spoon, until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Put the egg yolks with the cornflour into a medium bowl. Whisk them together until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the sweetened flavoured milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking until just smooth. “Pour in flavoured milk while whisking” “Tea towel keeps bowl steady while whisking” #TAKE CARE# Do not overwhisk or the finished custard will be frothy instead of smooth.
  • Cook the custard over medium heat, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon, until it comes just to a boil and thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Your finger will leave a clear trail across the spoon. #TAKE CARE # Do not continue to boil the custard or it may curdle.
  • Add the reserved flavoured milk to the custard and stir continuously with the wooden spoon to combine, until it comes back to the boil.
  • Strain the custard into a cold bowl and leave it to cool completely. If it forms a skin, whisk to dissolve it. “Straining ensures custard is smooth”
  • Pour the vanilla custard into the ice-cream maker and freeze until slushy, following the manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, chill a large bowl in the freezer. “Rubber spatula is efficient tool for transferring cream”
  • Pour the cream into another chilled bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
  • Add the whipped cream to the half-set vanilla custard and continue freezing until firm. “Ice-cream maker will mix cream into custard”
  • Transfer the ice cream to the chilled bowl, cover it, and freeze at least 4 hours. If you make the ice cream well ahead of time, put it in the refrigerator to let it soften, about 30 minutes before scooping. #Poach The Pears# Cut one of the lemons in half. Peel a pear, leaving the stalk intact
  • Rub the cut surface of the lemon all over the peeled pear to prevent discoloration.
  • Working from the bottom, scoop out the pips and fibrous core from the pear using the vegetable peeler, without breaking open the fruit. Repeat with the remaining pears. “Intact stalk preserves character of pear.”
  • Pare the zest from the second lemon with the vegetable peeler. Squeeze the juice from the lemon. “Thinly pared zest leaves pith behind.”
  • Make the poaching combine the water, vanilla pod, if using, lemon zest and juice, and sugar in the shallow pan.
  • Heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil.
  • Remove the pan from the heat Carefully add the whole pears to the poaching syrup. “The pears should be completely covered by syrup, so if necessary add more water to cover them.”
  • Cut a disk of parchment paper the same diameter as the pan. Dampen it then place it on top of the pears to keep them submerged in the syrup.
  • Simmer the pears gently over low heat until tender when pierced with a small knife, 25-35 minutes, depending on ripeness. Let the pears cool in the liquid. “Do not let the liquid boil or the outside of the pears will disintegrate before the inside is cooked.” “Discard parchment paper once pears are cooked” “Do hot cut into pears too deeply when testing if tender” #Make The Chocolate Sauce and Finish The Dish# Cut the chocolate into large chunks. Chop them with the chef s knife or in a food processor, using the pulse button. Combine the water and chocolate in a small saucepan. Stir over gentle heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  • Simmer until slightly thickened and the consistency of double cream, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the brandy, and keep the sauce warm.
  • Drain the pears well. Set a pear in the centre of each of 6 chilled serving plates. Arrange 5 scoops of vanilla ice cream around each pear. Ladle some warm chocolate sauce over the pears, decorate with mint, and serve at once. Pass the remaining sauce separately. #TO SERVE# Poached pear looks attractive with chocolate sauce poured sparingly on top. Warm chocolate sauce runs  smoothly onto pear. Mint leaves introduce green accent.
    Poires Belle Helene Recipe-easy dessert recipes-chocolate dessert cake
    Poires Belle Helene Recipe-easy dessert recipes-chocolate dessert cake
Keyword Chocolate, Dessert recipes, Fruit Desserts