Chocolate Extras!


We seem to be suffering from chocolate mania this year – see “Aaah, Chocolate!” and “Kitchen Magic” in the Almanac. We found such good recipes we decided to pass along a few more.

Pears in Chocolate Sauce
From Jacques Pepin’s Kitchen, classic Poires Helene. Pepin says, “In this easy, flavorful recipe, pears are cooked simply with sugar, water, and vanilla. Then, when they are tender, cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate are added to the cooking liquid to create a sauce.”

4 ripe Anjou pears (about 2 pounds), peeled, quartered and cored
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
4 sprigs fresh mint
4 cookies (optional)

Place the pear pieces in a stainless-steel saucepan. Add the sugar, water, and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook the pears for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are very tender when pierced with the pointed tip of a sharp knife.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a bowl. (You should have about 1/2 cup of cooking liquid in the pan. If you have more, boil it until reduced to 1/2 cup; if you have less, add water to bring it to 1/2 cup.) Add the bittersweet chocolate and the cocoa powder to the liquid in the pan. Mix with a whisk over low heat, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Transfer the chocolate sauce to a bowl. Cool to room temperature. It should thicken to a syrup-like consistency. (Yield: 1 cup.)

Divide the sauce among 4 dessert plates, and arrange the pear pieces on top of the sauce. Decorate each serving with a sprig of mint, and serve, if desired with a cookie. Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Chocolate, pecans and whipped cream are old friends, delicious in pie.

1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped, divided
1 unbaked pie shell, (9-inch)
whipped cream, for topping

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate chips, instant coffee, and vanilla extract; mix well. Stir in flour and 1 cup pecans; blend well. Pour into pie shell; sprinkle remaining chopped pecans over top. Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool and serve with whipped cream. Makes 6 servings.

Chocolate Yogurt Sherbet
Cool and tangy, a no-cook dessert that practically makes itself.

3 cups crushed ice
8 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
2 ounces baking chocolate, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Whipped cream topping

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Whirl until thoroughly blended but not melted. Pour into 4 tall glass parfaits and freeze until mixture is slightly frozen. Stir, top with whipped cream or garnish with fruit, berries or nuts.

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