05 October 2008

A Perfect Pear

Chocolate and pears, that is- and black tea too.

I made this for a dinner party the other night, and to be honest, I chose it because I'd spent too much time and effort on the savory courses. It was a new recipe, but it seemed the easiest tea-related dessert that I could make and then slyly photograph and repurpose for the blog without my guests noticing.

It turned out to be much more than last resort recipe, however: The muskiness of the pears, saturated with tea, produced floral and spicy overtones with every moist bite. And the simplicity of the chocolate sauce- just chopped bittersweet bars melted into some of the tea poaching liquid- belied its velvety, rich taste.

This is an ideal season-transition dish; the pears and strong black tea definitely conjure autumn, but the subtle citrus note and ice-cream-sundae gilding bring back the quickly fading memory of summer.

And you get to use a melon baller, with which I've discovered it's impossible to be in a bad mood while wielding. Perhaps it's the instant, irrepressible 1950s vibe it gives you, a feeling that communism could indeed be defeated with cheerfulness and a clean apron.

The original recipe, believe it or not, was from the amusing cookbook Veganomicon, which, despite its somewhat lax editing, I'd recommend. Because I don't like anyone telling me what to do, I've just been making all its baked goods with real butter and milk- and, like these pears, they've been turning out full of omnivoric guilt, and quite delicious.

Tea-Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce
Makes: 4-6 servings.

3 cups water
4 teaspoons black tea (try English Breakfast or Darjeeling)
1/4 cup sugar
4 firm Bosc or D'Anjou pears, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise and cored
Zest from 1/2 orange, in wide strips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used one Ghiradelli bar of 60% cacao, one of 70%), chopped
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. In a medium-size saucepan, boil the water. Add tea and sugar, stir to mix, and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain the liquid into a serving bowl, then back into the saucepan, discarding tea leaves.

2. Bring tea mixture to a boil and add orange zest, vanilla and pears. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then remove orange zest. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until pears are just tender when pierced with a knife. Transfer pears and liquid to serving bowl.

3. Remove one cup of poaching liquid and return it to the saucepan. Bring it to a simmer, then turn off heat and add chocolate, stirring to melt. Let the sauce and pears cool separately, about one hour, then serve together with ice cream, if desired.

Oh and yes, it is rather difficult to shoot ice cream dripping with hot fudge. I think it's time for a photography assistant/blog intern. I promise to review all resumes sent my way, and to offer my priceless words of unasked-for life advice as compensation.


amy said...

poached pears are a newly discovered love of mine... and poached in tea? genius.

Jenn's Serving-Ice-Cream said...

Yum! This recipe looks great! Only one suggestion - serve with ice cream if desired? - I think it should definitely be served with ice cream =O)

Mrs.French said...

oh my goodness...my mouth is watering.

avra romanowitz said...

you wish you were that sly! this guest may have noticed your photography, but endorsed it. these delicious pears should be seen and remembered. soooo good.

ps--that would be one lucky intern. apply today!