Poached pears are the perfect, simple dessert on their unembellished own; add some vanilla ice cream and an easy chocolate sauce and they become poire Hélène, a lot more style for just a bit more effort.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon slices with
Peel and cut the pears in half through the stem. Using a melon-baller, scoop out the cores. Add the pears to the poaching liquid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the pears are just tender (the tip of a paring knife will go through the flesh of a pear with just a little resistance), about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the pears in the poaching liquid, about 45 minutes.
Serve the pears as is, allowing 2 halves per person, or serve each half topped with a scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream, a little pear-poaching syrup, and warm chocolate sauce drizzled over the top.
© 2010 All rights reserved. Published by Rodale Books.