Apples crunch but pears melt.
The pear’s luxurious mouth feel explains why some Belgian pear varieties contain the word “beurre” in their name. The buttery fruit pairs well with four of the most beloved food groups: red wine, almonds, vanilla and chocolate.
One classic pear dessert, Poir Hélène, named for composer Jacques Offenbach’s operetta about Helen of Troy, combines the cooked fruit with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Since the pear is the real star of the show, The Star’s updated version of Caramelized Pears With Dark Chocolate Sauce bumps up the cocoa content because dark chocolate has been found to contain more antioxidants than milk chocolate. It also replaces the cream with fat-free half-and-half. To further reduce the total saturated fat, substitute your favorite brand of fat-free or low-fat frozen yogurt for ice cream.
Although pears contain more calories than apples, they also have more fiber. Other health benefits: small amounts of phosphorous and vitamin A.
Unlike most fruit, pears are picked while still hard since the texture and flavor actually improve after harvest. According to “The Nutrition Bible” by Jean Anderson and Barbara Deskins, the best varieties for cooking include Anjou (sweet but firm), Bartlett (crisp and bland), Bosc (dryish and grainy) and Seckel (gritty).
The Star’s testers used Lindt 70 percent Cocoa Intense Dark chocolate for this recipe.