The Classic Parisian dessert of a poached pear, vanilla ice cream and thick French chocolate sauce was invented by legendary chef, Auguste Escoffier, after hearing the French soprano, Hortense Schneider, sing the title role in Offenbach's Belle-Hélène in Paris, 1864.
In a large saucepan, boil the water and sugar to form a syrup. Add the vanilla powder, if using.
Peel the pears, leaving the stalk and the core intact. Ensure the pears are covered by the syrup by placing parchment paper on top and cover with a lid. Poach in the syrup for about 30 minutes until tender.
Remove the pears from the syrup and finely cut the ends off so that each pear can stand up right without falling over. Chill in the fridge until needed.
Heat together the cream and milk over a medium heat until nearly boiling. Break the chocolate into a bowl, pour over the hot cream and stir until the chocolate sauce is smooth.
In each serving dish, serve 2 scoops of ice cream, top with a pear and pour over the sauce. Garnish with grilled or toasted hazelnuts and serve immediately.
Serve with chocolate or chocolate-hazelnut macarons or with chocolate hazelnut cookies.
It's best to use pears that are just ripe (not over, not under). If slightly under, then allow for slightly more cooking/poaching time.
Nutritional Information: 238 calories per serving; 4g protein; 12g fat; 29g carbohydrates.