Poire (Pear) Belle Helene

Poire Helene Another dessert invented by Escoffier, also with a musical theme, is Pear Helene (Poire Belle Helene). The inspiration came from the 1864 operetta of the same name, by Offenbach.

A favourite dessert in our family, it’s simple and delicious. All it takes is some poached pears (you can use canned ones to make it dead easy, although I wouldn’t during the summer season), vanilla ice cream, and warmed chocolate sauce. That’s it.


It’s a treat I remember from my childhood (and I can thank my parents for lavishing such things on us as youngsters – resulting, perhaps, in my chronic sweet tooth).

I haven’t had it for ages, but leaving my parents house a few days ago, I noticed that their pear tree was full of pears, and that was enough for me to go poaching.

I used a sugar syrup (a ratio of about 1:10 – sugar to water), and only poached them enough to soften them slightly (about 5 minutes).

Pear HeleneI don’t especially like over-cooked fruit, but raw pears are not as luxurious in this dessert. It’s a bit of a balance, though, for soggy pears are not very appealing either…

There’s little assembly required – a bit of ice cream, some warm chocolate sauce liberally dribbled on top, and the spoon is ready for work.

I have seen this dessert presented as whole poached pears resting on a lake of chocolate with the ice cream adjoining them, and that has quite a dramatic effect!

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