Poires Belle-Hélène

This classic recipe of poached pears in chocolate sauce was invented in the nineteenth century and named after a famous operetta. It used to be served with crystallized violets, but you can use sliced almonds.

Serves: 4Hands-on: 15 minutesTotal: 40 minutesDifficulty: Easy

Serves: 4


  • 4 cups cold water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 4 pears, peeled
  • 4.5 oz. dark chocolate, at least 66% cocoa
  • ½ cup crème fraîche or whipping cream
  • 4 Tbsp. sliced almonds


  • Fill a large saucepan with 4 cups of cold water. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Slice the vanilla pod lengthwise, and add it to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Add pears to the boiling water, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. When the pears have cooled down, take them out with a slotted spoon and reserve. Increase the heat under the saucepan to high, and boil until the sweetened water has reduced by ¾. Then take the vanilla pod out, use a teaspoon to scrape the seeds out, put the seeds back in the saucepan, and discard the pod.
  • Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces if it’s not chocolate chips. Put in the saucepan containing the reduced sugar syrup, and lower the heat to medium-low. Stir continuously as you add the crème fraîche, until the chocolate mixture is combined.
  • Serve in individual bowls. First put the pear in the bowl, then pour warm chocolate sauce over it, and sprinkle sliced almonds on top.