Pear Belle Hélène
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
150g unsalted butter
250g block cream cheese, chopped and brought to room temperature
330g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
80g cocoa powder, sifted
4 large eggs, whisked
3 tbsp milk
6 small beurre bosc pears, peeled and cored
1 cup of caster sugar
1/4 cup sherry
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
Place the 2 cups of water, sherry, sugar, cinnamon stick and star anise in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and add the pears. Cover and cook gently for 8-12 minutes or until the pears have just started to soften. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears from the liquid and place them in a bowl to cool. This can be done a day or two ahead of time. Cut the pears in half and trim the stem.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 26cm round pan with baking paper.
For the chocolate slice, combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted. Take off the heat and stir in the cream cheese with a metal spoon. Mix the sugar, flour and cocoa powder in a separate bowl and incorporate into the cream cheese mixture. Add the eggs a little at a time, mixing well after each addition then fold through chopped pear.
Arrange the pear halves into the lined pan, cut side down. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer pierced through the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.