Praline Pears Dressed in Chocolate
This recipe was first published in the Evening Standard for Christmas in 1985 as an alternative to Traditional Christmas Pudding.
It is special (of course) and attractive, yet not as filling as Christmas pudding: lightly poached pears, with a crunchy praline centre, and a smooth, glossy chocolate coating.
This recipe is from The Evening Standard 1985 Serves 8
Start by making the praline.
To do this, place the almonds and sugar together in a pan over a low heat, and leave them until all the crystals of sugar have completely dissolved. Then cook until the liquid has turned a rich brown colour. Now pour this mixture on to a well-oiled baking sheet spreading the almonds out in a single layer. Leave the mixture to cool and become brittle and then, using a palette knife, lift off the baking tray on to a flat surface. Break it up with a few bashes from a rolling pin, then crush fairly finely. You can store the praline in an airtight jar for quite a while.
Now for the pears: using a peeler or very sharp paring knife, carefully peel them (leaving the stalks on), then cut the cores out from the base end of each pear - leaving a hollowed-out bit in the middle. Next place the 4oz sugar and 1.5 pints of water in a large pan over a medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved, arrange the pears in the pan with the vanilla pod and bring up to a simmering point. After that give the pears 10-15 minutes’ poaching (this will depend entirely on how hard they are). Turn them over in the barely simmering water during the cooking and test them for tenderness with a skewer then drain them well in a colander.
Using a teaspoon, pack as much of the praline as you can into the hollowed-out centres of the pear (you won't use all the mixture, but the rest will be used to decorate). Stand the pears upright in a large shallow serving bowl, and proceed to the chocolate coating.
Place the broken-up chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, dissolve the coffee granules in the boiling water and pour that into the bowl as well. Then set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and leave until the chocolate has melted and smooth. Remove from the heat, add the egg yolks, rum and butter and stir until smooth. Next whisk the egg whites until stiff (you can watch our Cookery School Video showing you how to to do this), but not dry, and fold them into the chocolate mixture. Pour this over the pears, making sure each one is entirely coated with the chocolate.
Chill until ready to serve, then whip the cream and use it to decorate (Piping types can use a piping bag to make pretty patterns!). Finally sprinkle the remaining praline over the cream and pears, and serve.