Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hélène's Beautiful Pears

Well, we made it through Christmas! While it's almost never smooth sailing (especially here, with 4 meals at one place and 1 at another, 3 different diets and one oven), the week of celebrations heralded everything that the season is about - love, peace, laughs and family. In terms of meals, the new "convection roast" function on our oven made a spectacular turkey while the warming drawer kept everything else perfectly hot, the collaborative vegetarian pasta dish mom and I made for Christmas Eve (roasted cauliflower, peppers and ricotta) was divine, the Clementine and Cranberry Sauce I adapted from Aimée's book Brown Eggs and Jam Jars has been slathered on everything from mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts to our toasted leftover Challah this morning.  

With so many rich meals so close together this year, dessert was simple - dishes of ice cream with a spoonful of these cocoa-laced pear preserves. I was inspired by the Poires Belle Hélène recipe in Camilla Wynne's book Preservation Society Home Preserves: 100 Modern Recipes a few weeks back when planning gift baskets, and with the glut of Asian pears in the local store I decided to try those out instead of the traditonal Anjou. Muscovado sugar and a kiss of Grand Marnier upped the elegance a wee bit - and with the inspiration being more of an adult-friendly one anyways I wasn't pulling any punches with the flavour. I wound up making a second batch for holiday gifts, after the first one mysteriously disappeared - but who knows how those North Pole elves celebrate?

Hélène's Beautiful Pears


Hélène's Beautiful Pears
Makes 2 ½ pints, 5 (1/2 cup) servings (including syrup)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup Muscovado or dark brown sugar
1 tbsp amber honey or agave nectar
1 ⅓ cups water
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 large Asian pears, peeled and sliced into wedges
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use a high-quality one)
pinch salt

Per (pint) jar:
1 tbsp Grand Marnier
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla
  1. Combine the sugars, honey, water and lemon juice in a pot over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Add the pears and cook 5 minutes. Transfer pears to sterilized jars, add the liqueur, lemon juice and vanilla and set aside.
  3. Whisk the cocoa and salt into the syrup and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and carefully pour over the pears in the jars.
  5. Process 25 minutes in a waterbath.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 306.7
Total Fat: 1.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 5.7 mg
Total Carbs: 80.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.7 g
Protein: 1.8 g