Poire belle Hélène is a classic dessert, invented by the godfather of French cuisine Auguste Escoffier. Modern-day French culinary legend Pierre Koffman's poire belle Hélène recipe includes sablé cookies in addition to the traditional chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and poached pears.
Koffmann's cooking is undeniably refined; classical yet humble, with provincial French touches grounding the skilful elegance of the food. Taking inspiration from his Gascon roots, Koffmann artfully extracts extraordinary flavour from ordinary ingredients and cuts.
The folder name
Please choose a different name.
Please enter a name for the new folder.
Begin by making the sablé cookies - these can be made in advance and stored for up to a week in an airtight container. Any leftover dough can be frozen for up to 2 months
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the egg yolk and cream to the butter mixture, then carefully fold in the flour so as not to overwork the dough
400g of butter
200g of caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp double cream
500g of T45 flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
Divide the dough in half and cover with cling film. Chill in the fridge until firm, for approximately 2 hours. Any excess dough can be frozen for up to 2 months
Working on a smooth surface, roll the dough out onto a floured surface into a square about 1cm thick. Chill on a baking tray in the fridge for approximately 20 minutes
Place the baking tray in the oven and pre-bake for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut into small 1.5cm sized squares, return to the oven and bake for a further 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool
Now make the ice cream - don't forget to put the canister from the machine into the freezer a day before you want to make the ice cream
Place the milk and vanilla seeds and pod into a heavy saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring occasionally until it almost boils. Remove from the heat and set aside for approximately 30 minutes so the vanilla can infuse
500g of whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
Place the egg yolks into a bowl with the sugar and beat with an electric hand-held whisk for approximately 2 minutes until the mixture has thickened, is paler in colour and falls in thick ribbons when you lift the beaters
120g of egg yolk
90g of sugar
Add some of the milk and beat into the egg yolks to slacken them. Reheat the milk until it just comes to the boil, remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolk mixture
Return the pan to a low heat and cook, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, for 8-10 minutes, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Make sure that it does not boil – as soon as you see any bubbles about to burst to the surface, it should be thick enough, so take the pan off the heat so the mixture does not curdle
Pour the custard into a heatproof bowl, then sit it in a bigger bowl one third full of iced water to cool it down (this takes approximately 20 minutes). Stir occasionally to stop a skin forming. Place the bowl of custard in the fridge for 3-4 hours, preferably overnight, so it gets really cold
Turn on the ice cream maker. Scoop out the vanilla pod pieces, then slowly pour the cold custard into the ice cream maker. Leave it to churn for 10-30 minutes or according to manufacturer's instructions
Once it stops it is probably too soft to eat, so spoon into a plastic container, cover with cling film, then a lid, and freeze for a minimum of 3 hours. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving
For the Chantilly cream, combine all of the ingredients and mix well until the cream is stiff. Place the mixture into a piping bag and set aside in the fridge
240g of whipping cream
20g of icing sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
For the chocolate sauce, place all of the ingredients into a bowl and place on top of a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and all of the ingredients are combined. Set aside to keep warm
100g of chocolate, milk or dark
80g of whole milk
80g of cream
25g of sugar
Finally, make the poached pears. Place the water and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the star anise and pears to the hot syrup and gently poach until tender, making sure the pears are submerged in the syrup
3 pears, ripe, peeled and cored with stalks left on
500ml of water
200g of sugar
1 star anise
To plate, pipe some of the Chantilly cream into the bottom of a serving dish or glass. Cut the pears into 1/8s and arrange 4 slices in each glass
Place a scoop of ice cream in the middle and top with chocolate sauce and flaked almonds. Add some of the sablé cookies to each dish and serve immediately
Want more recipes like this delivered to your inbox?
Sign up to our newsletter now and we'll send you a hand-picked round-up of the best seasonal recipes and features from the best chefs each week.
Invalid email address
Thanks for subscribing
We'll only contact you around once per week with the best recipes and features. You can unsubscribe at any time.