Gently poaching pears with the subtle aromas of Earl Grey tea, instead of the usual alcohol and sugar-spiked liquor, renders them tender and fragrant. Cloaked in a warm chocolate sauce, they are wonderfully indulgent.
3 Earl Grey tea bags
700ml boiling water
4 ripe pears
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
2 tbsp clear honey
For the chocolate sauce
80g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp almond milk
1. Immerse the tea bags in the boiling water and leave to infuse for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Strain the tea and set aside.
2. Carefully peel the pears. Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out the core and cut out the woody base from each pear.
3. Stand the pears in a saucepan in which they fit quite snugly and sprinkle over the lemon juice and honey. Pour over the tea and place the pan over a medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook gently, adjusting the heat if necessary, for 25 minutes until the pears are tender right through. Lift out the pears with a slotted spoon, slice them in half and place in a bowl; keep warm. Put the pan back over a high heat and let the liquor bubble for 5–10 minutes to reduce until syrupy. Set aside.
4. For the sauce, finely chop the chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl. Place over a pan of just-boiled water, ensuring that the base of the bowl is not in direct contact with the water. Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. As soon as it has melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Stir in the vanilla extract and almond milk to make a thick sauce.
5. Serve 2 pear halves per person, drizzled with the reduced syrup and topped with the warm chocolate sauce.
Photograph: Jan Baldwin
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