This recipe is from one of my favourite South African foodie magazines, Food & Home Entertaining. I love this magazine with all my heart and all my tummy. I carried boxes of them with me while moving around in South Africa, and almost cried when I was forced to tear out my favourite recipes to lighten the load when I finally moved to Australia. This is the first recipe I looked for and saved.
I first made the pears that go with this sauce while living in Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of South Africa. If you google Oudtshoorn, you'll find that the town is famous for a few things:
- Cango caves
- semi-desert climate very unsympathetic towards growing your own fruit and vegetables
I have quite a few good ones, but this one is by far the best. First you make a fabulous cardamom crumble. (And cardamom happens to be my ultimate favourite spice). Then you poach the pears in an orange and spice syrup. Then you caramelise the pears in butter and more sugar. Then you have the pears with the chocolate sauce and crumble. And then you feel like you've died and gone to heaven.
It's the sauce, you see. The pears are delicious, and the crumble is fabulous. Oh, but the sauce. It's the sauce that lifts this recipe into the sublime, all rich and smooth and dark with chocolate. It's the sauce that you end up eating straight from the fridge, mixed with some of the crumble. And that's when you realise this is truly The Best Chocolate Sauce in the World. And then you have just a tiny bit more.
Poached and caramelised crumbly pears
For the crumble
4 cardamom pods
50g butter, room temperature
50g treacle sugar
50g walnuts, chopped
For the pears
6 firm pears
juice of 1 lemon
150g caramel sugar (I used demerara)
400ml orange juice
100ml sherry or dessert wine
1 stick cinnamon
3 cardamom pods, whole
For the caramel
30ml caramel sugar
60ml of the poaching liquid
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Using a pestle and mortar, crush the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Discard the pods and grind the seeds. Add this together with the oats to the flour.
Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and walnuts and rub it into the mixture until it becomes lumpy. If you want a finer crumb, combine everything in a food processor.
Sprinkle the mixture onto a baking tray and bake, turning occasionally, until crunchy and golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool before use.
Peel the pears, leaving the stalks intact. Brush them with some lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
In a large, heavy-based saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice and sherry. Add the remaining lemon juice, and the cinnamon stick and whole cardamom pods. Bring slowly to the boil.
Reduce the heat and allow to sauce to simmer for at least 2 minutes to develop the flavours before adding the pears. Poach the pears for about 15-20 minutes, until tender but still firm. Remove from the poaching liquid.
To caramelise the pears, melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan until bubbly. Add the pears and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the caramel sugar and continue turning the pears until they are coated and golden brown in colour. Spoon over some of the poaching liquid, and continue turning until the pears are fully covered in the rich. glossy caramel syrup.
Serve sprinkled with crumble and The Best Chocolate Sauce in the World
The Best Chocolate Sauce in the World
75g treacle sugar
50g golden syrup
200g dark chocolate, chopped
Place the cream, milk, sugar, butter and surp in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate.
Continue to stir until all the chocolate has melted.