Poached pears with chocolate

We had poached pears with ice-cream and chocolate sauce tonight, inspiration from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pears
  • 2 heaped tbsp caster sugar
  • a vanilla pod
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • ice-cream

METHOD:

  • Pour a litre of water into a large saucepan, add the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and bring to the boil.
  • Meanwhile peel the pears, halve them and remove the cores with a teaspoon.
  • Add the pears to the boiling syrup, and poach for 15 minutes
  • Allow to cool in the syrup
  • To serve, take 200ml of the syrup, and boil this with the chocolate.
  • Serve the pears over the ice-cream with chocolate sauce poured over the top.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

We had some ground hazelnuts, so we tried this recipe. It was delicious, and it would have been even better if I had a cake platter. It also keeps well, and can be frozen. If you don’t have ground hazelnuts, you can start with whole nuts. The recipe is from ‘Chocolate’ by Patricia Lousada.

INGREDIENTS (CAKE)

  • 90g Hazelnuts, toasted and rubbed to remove skins, or 90g ground hazelnuts
  • 140g fair trade caster sugar
  • 90g fair trade continental plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 90g fair trade dark cooking chocolate (50% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 180g organic salted butter, chopped
  • 4 free range organic eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30 organic plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

INGREDIENTS (GLAZE)

  • 90g fairtrade continental style dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 90g plain cooking chocolate (50% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 125g salted butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup

METHOD:

  • Prepare a 23cm springform tin: grease the tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
  • Heat the oven to 190C
  • Grind the hazelnuts with 2 tbsp of the sugar.
  • In a double pan, melt the two chocolates with the butter
  • Whisk the egg yolks with 90g of the sugar until pale, thick and creamy
  • When the chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, mix it with the egg yolks and sugar
  • Mix the flour and salt with the hazelnuts, and fold that into the chocolate mixture as well
  • Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until ’soft peak’ and then add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until the peaks are stiff.
  • Fold the egg whites carefully into the chocolate mixture, and scrape into the prepared tin.
  • Bake for 35 minutes; the centre will still be moist, and the torte should not have risen much, if at all.
  • Cool the torte in the tin on a wire rack. Quick note: at this point, you could cool the torte, turn it out of the tin and then freeze it for up to two months.
  • When the cake is cool, make the glaze. Melt the two chocolates with the butter and golden syrup in a double pan.
  • Spread about a quarter of the glaze over the cake, and then chill: this stops annoying crumbs getting into the surface of the glaze later on.
  • When the first bit is set, rewarm the glaze a little, and pour over the cake. This is best done on a wire rack over a large plate.
  • If you are feeling really creative, melt 1 oz white chocolate and 1 oz milk chocolate separately, and pipe designs into the setting glaze. Circular stripes feathered with a skewer are suggested in the book.

We served this with pouring cream.