Poached Pear with Dark Chocolate, Creme Anglaise and Balsamic Port Reduction

Organic Starkrimson pear poached in Tawny port wine, vanilla and peppercorns and served with dark chocolate, crème anglaise and a balsamic port reduction..

Poached Pear with Dark Chocolate, Creme Anglaise and Balsamic Port Reduction

For the Crème Anglaise (adapted from a recipe by Michael Ruhlman)

4 oz fresh whole milk
4 oz fresh heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoons dark, unrefined sugar
3 pastured egg yolks

Combine milk, cream and vanilla bean in stainless steel or enameled saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Remove from heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep for 15-20 minutes before scraping the seeds back into the milk-cream mixture.  Thoroughly whisk the sugar into the eggs yolks.

Return the milk-cream mixture to a bare simmer over medium heat.  Very slowly pour the milk-cream mixture into the beaten eggs with one hand while whisking vigorously with the other.  Pour everything back into the pan and stir continuously until thickened but still pour-able, about 2-4 minutes.

Pour the finished sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl set into an ice bath and stir until the sauce is cold. Refrigerate and use within 2 days.

For the Pears

2 fresh pears, peeled and cored from the bottom
2 cups Tawny port wine
2 cups filtered water, more or less
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
8-10 whole black peppercorns

If necessary, cut a small slice off the bottom of the pears so that they stand upright.  Place pears upright in the smallest pan that will hold them and cover with port and enough water to cover.  Add vanilla and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until pears are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  Refrigerate until ready to use, reserving poaching liquid.

For the Balsamic Port Reduction

1 1/2 cups poaching liquid
1/4 cup Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale
raw wildflower honey

Simmer reserved poaching liquid and balsamic over medium heat until reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Remove from heat and add honey a little at a time, tasting on your fingertip as you go.  The result should be a little more tart than sweet.

To serve, spoon crème anglaise onto a chilled dessert plate and drizzle with balsamic port reduction.  Place the pear on top and serve with a pool of cacao nib-crusted dark chocolate.