Pears cooked in a white wine, saffron and vanilla flavoured poaching liquid before being cooked in the centre of a chocolate and almond sponge. An impressive but surprisingly easy dessert.
Place the wine, sugar, water, saffron and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over a gentle heat.
Peel the pears, keeping their natural shape and leaving the stem intact. Gently add the pears to the poaching liquid and cover with a cartouche. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and poach until the pears tender - this will about 25 minutes, depending on the ripeness.
Remove pears from liquid and set aside to cool. Cut base from each pear so and carefully scoop out the core from the bottom.
Reduce the poaching liquid until thickened to a syrup and use as a sauce when serving.
Preheat the oven to 170'C.
Separate the eggs. Whisk the butter and sugar together until light and pale. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time.
Melt the chocolate over a bain marie and then fold into the butter, egg and sugar mixture. Mix well and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure there are no lumps. Add the Kirsch, sift in the ground almonds and the flour and fold together.
In a dry and clean bowl, whip the egg whites to firm peaks then gently fold into the chocolate cake batter. Divide into ovenproof serving dishes and place a single poached pear in the centre of each chocolate cake.
Bake for around 15-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm with some chocolate sauce and a good dollop of vanilla flavoured mascapone.
Whisk the remaining vanilla paste, mascarpone and icing until smooth.
Melt the remaining chocolate over a Bain Marie and serve the cake on a dollop of mascarpone, drizzled with the melted chocolate and saffron syrup.
«Once your stock syrup is made it will keep in the fridge for months. The high quantity of sugar will make it similar to a jam which has a very long shelf life.»