Poached pears are a fantastic dessert, especially when covered in white and dark chocolate. These are a joy to make; I embellish the whole job by raining down colored sprinkles over the finished pears to create a Joseph's Technicolor dream coat effect, then let my guests shatter them with a spoon!
Pick pears with long stems for an attractive look and to give you something to hang on to when painting them with chocolate.
1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate or 1/2 cup each of semisweet and white chocolate
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon corn syrup
Colored candy sprinkles
6 ripe but not mushy Bartlett, Bosc, or Anjou pears with nice stems
1/3 cup sugar
2 -inch piece of whole cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed and cut in half
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh mint leaves
Peel and core the pears with an apple corer, but leave them whole with the stems on. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each pear if necessary to hold them upright while cooking. Place the pears in a saucepan just large enough to snugly accommodate them. Pour in enough water to almost cover the pears; add the sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon juice. Simmer the pears gently for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a small knife is effortlessly inserted into them.
Do not over cook them to the point of being mushy. With a slotted spoon, remove the pears to a dish to cool to room temperature.
If using all semisweet chocolate, put it in a bowl positioned over warm, not hot, water. Stir in the vegetable oil and corn syrup until the ingredients slowly melt. The chocolate should be shiny and smooth.
If using white and dark chocolate, follow the about procedure, but melt the chocolates in separate bowls, using half of the vegetable oil and half of the corn syrup for each type.
Hold the pears by the top stem over the bowl of melted chocolate. Working quickly, dip a fork in the warm chocolate and drizzle it over the tops of the pears. If using both chocolates, first drizzle the dark chocolate, let it dry a bit and then drizzle white chocolate over the pears. Let the pears dry on wax paper before placing them on serving dishes. Garnish with a mint leaf.
To cover the pears with candied sprinkles, paint the chocolate glaze over the pears with a pastry brush to totally cover them. While the glaze is still warm, sprinkle the pears with the candy confetti. This makes a really nice party look. If you want to serve them without the chocolate, make Strawberry Coulis.
Puree the berries in a food processor or blender until very smooth. Strain the juice in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; discard the seeds and residue pulp.
Stir the sugar and lemon juice into the bowl with the strawberry puree. I store the sauce in plastic squeeze bottles, then pool some of the sauce around the bottom of each pear just before serving. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
Store any leftover sauce in the refrigerator.
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