This recipe is featured in our Gilded Fork: Entertaining at Home cookbook.
Raspberries and chocolate are a classic combination. Here we pair the sauce with a poached pear, which has a sweet fruitiness and a hint of citrus from the lemon and wine poaching liquid. This supple dessert is the perfect finish to a romantic meal; the fleshiness of the pear and the richness of the chocolate are quite a sensual pairing, evoking thoughts of things to come.
2 ripe but still firm pears (we prefer Anjou, but any sweet firm pears will do)
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Water, to cover
For the chocolate sauce:
2 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup fresh raspberries
Mint sprigs, for garnish
For the pears:
Peel and core the pears, leaving the stems intact. If necessary, slice a thin slice from the bottom of each pear so that it stands firmly. Place the pears in a small saucepan that will fit them without crowding, but without allowing them to drift around. Add the wine, sugar, cinnamon stick, lemon zest and juice, and fill with water to just cover the pears. Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until tender. A knife should be able to easily penetrate the pear. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and allow to cool.
For the chocolate sauce:
Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Place the dark chocolate in a bowl large enough to rest in the saucepan to form a double-boiler. Add the sugar and heavy cream and melt slowly over gentle heat. Meanwhile, press the raspberries through a sieve with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat, add the butter and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add the raspberry puree, and stir thoroughly.
[Chef’s Note: Water is the enemy of chocolate. When melting chocolate in a double-boiler, avoid getting any water in the chocolate. This will cause the sauce to break and form a grainy, lumpy mess. When removing the melted chocolate from the double-boiler, it helps to place a kitchen towel underneath the bowl to remove any condensation.
If desired, you can omit the wine from the pear poaching liquid.]
Spoon chocolate sauce onto the center of each serving plate. Place one pear in the center of each plate and garnish with a sprig of mint. If desired, you may also drizzle some chocolate sauce over the pear.
Recipe by Mark Tafoya
Photo by C.C. Chapman