Pears Belle-Helene

Makes 8 servings

1 cup of water
½ cup of sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
8 Anjou pears
French vanilla ice cream

for the sauce

2/3 cup of powdered cocoa
3 cups sugar
1½ cups of milk
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Special equipment

9x9 inch square or larger baking pan
heavy saucepan for chocolate sauce


Preheat you oven to 350°. Dissolve the sugar in the water in your baking pan on the stovetop, and bring just to a boil. Meanwhile prepare the fruit by removing a slice from the bottom so they'll sit erect in the pan. Do not peel, leave the stems intact, but core from the bottom. Place the pears in the baking pan, and roast for about 45 minutes or until soft. The length of time will vary with the size and variety of your fruit.

While the pears are baking, make the chocolate sauce by combining the cocoa, sugar, and salt in your heavy saucepan. Stir in the milk, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Boil just a few minutes, stir in the vanilla, and set to the side to cool. When the foam on the top has cooled to a chewy and sticky tar, remove the foam with a fork: a job you should assign the family chocoholic. This will make far more sauce than you need for the pears alone, which again will win you the eternal gratitude of your neighborhood chocolate fiends.

When the pears are done, remove from the oven and cool slightly. Place each pear in an individual serving cup, surround with at least two scoops of ice cream and drizzle liberally with the chocolate sauce. Serve at once!


Named for Offenbach's satirical opera, Belle-Hélène is the name given to a number of recipes popularized by chefs from restaurants on the Grands Boulevards of Paris around 1865. Check Larousse for other elegant dishes they created.


The Pear Marketing Board's propaganda notwithstanding, we've found Anjou pears preferable to Bosch for baking, but use whichever you like best. You can also bake the pears without any sugar syrup, much as you would apples.

First served: Samhain 1995
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Last modified: © December 1995