Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce Poires Belle Hélène

Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce Poires Belle Hélène

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

18 minutes


4 people

This recipe for Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce Poires Belle Hélène is another in our series from food and travel writer Ann Mah’s new cookbook Instantly French! This book shows you how to use your electric pressure cooker to create classic French dishes.

“Pears and chocolate combine in this classic dessert, which was named after an Offenbach operetta and is still served in the cafés that line the Grands Boulevards near Paris’s Palais Garnier.

Though this dessert seems complex, with the help of the pressure cooker, it becomes deceptively simple: The pears poach easily in the pressure cooker—and the microwave-friendly chocolate sauce can be made in just one minute. Accompany with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.”

Copyright © 2018 by Ann Mah. Reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

The chocolate sauce will thicken as it cools; microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring after each, until it reaches the desired consistency. Drops of water (or condensation) can cause the sauce to seize up—to smooth it, add hot cream to the warmed sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time, and whisk until smooth.


For the pears

  • 1-1/2 cups (250 grams) sugar
  • 1 (2-3 inch / 5.0-7.5 centimeter) strip of lemon zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4-6 firm pears, such as Bartlett
  • As desired chocolate sauce (recipe follows), for serving
  • As desired vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Chocolate Sauce

  • 1 cup (185 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum, plus more as desired


  • 1 In the pressure cooker, combine the sugar, lemon zest, and 6 cups (1.5 Liters) water. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add the seeds and the pod to the pot. Mix well to combine.
  • 2 Peel the pears, leaving the stem attached, and add them to the poaching liquid. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes.
  • 3 Allow the pressure to release naturally. (Alternatively, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then manually release the steam.) Remove the inner pot from the pressure cooker and allow the pears to cool in the poaching liquid.
  • 4 Serve the pears in individual bowls, generously drizzled with chocolate sauce, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

For the chocolate Sauce

  • 1 In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and cream. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for 30 seconds more, if necessary, to melt the chocolate. Whisk the sauce until glossy and smooth.
  • 2 Whisk the rum into the sauce. Taste and add more rum as desired.


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