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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Une Recette: Poires Belle-Hélène

In my early twenties, I lived in France. Because of our ages, most of my time spent with friends was out-and-about. We rarely visited one-another's homes. At that age and in that culture, apartments were merely for sleeping; their size precluded entertaining. But on the rare occasion that I was invited to dinner at a friend's home, there was one dessert that was served more often than any other. (It goes without saying, right, that dessert is always served in France!) And so now, during the endless months (okay, years) à terra firma, between travels, this dessert is an easy way to recapture some of the magic of the memories, and a yummy way to share the memories with the sweet-tooths in the family.

owtw1 photo owtw1_zpsa3180959.jpg
Photo Courtesy of My French Cuisine
Je vous présente: Poires Belle-Hélène

For an extensive explanation of the authentic PBH (I'm sure I'd be denied re-entry into France if they saw how I massacred the auditory beauty of les poires by using such an abbreviation), Estelle at My French Cuisine offers a beautiful description.

But I'm going to share with you the shortcuts that we poor 20-somethings used, which is the "recipe" I still follow today.

Drain most of the liquid from a can of pear halves.

Place 1 or 2 pear halves in each bowl with a little bit of the juice.

Melt some chocolate. You can do this quickly in the microwave, depending on what type of chocolate you use, or make a hybrid bain marie/double broiler by bringing a small pot of water to a near boil, then setting a dinner plate on top. Put some chocolate (chips or a bar) on the plate and stir them around to melt them evenly.

Once the chocolate is melted, top each pear with a scoop of ice cream, then the melted chocolate.

Et voilà! You have an authentic (more or less) French dessert in minutes, and for pennies!

As a variation, which I actually prefer, try Pêches Belle-Hélène, substituting peaches for pears. I don't know how often the French would do that, but I'm a peach gal myself, so Pêches Belle-Hélène is my fave!

Any favorite dessert memories from your travels? We'd love to try them at our house!

Glossary (in order of appearance):
une recette (French) = a recipe
Je vous présente (French) = Introducing
Et voilà! (French) = And there you have it!


  1. Very clever choice for an international "recette," as PBH is named after an operetta by a German-born French composer.

  2. Ah-ha, the international flavor goes deeper than I realized. Thanks for the new info!