Please don't blame chocolate when you're looking in the mirror and wondering "does my bum look big in this?". If you ate more than one square of it at a time, was that the chocolate or the lack of discipline which now brings you despair?
Grannie used to say as she had her statutory tot of whisky every evening "purely medicinal my dear". I feel that way about black chocolate, but it doesn't mean to say that I don't savour every little piece. My GP prescribed it for me when I had anaemia and I treat it with the utmost respect (and devotion! :) ). After all, food is medicine.
This is one of my favourite desserts. It was originally developed I think by a famous French chef to honour the woman who was playing the lead part of La Belle Helene. Women had started to dine out and didn't particularly want to eat those big rich puddings that men were so fond of. Probably their waistlines couldn't take it - I mean their clothes (no elastic back then at the end of the nineteenth century). Peach Melba was another dessert from this era, named after Dame Nellie Melba, the opera star.
I poach the pears in a spicy mixture, reminiscent of Yogi Tea, which gives them a warm, Autumnal tinge. Otherwise, I guess you could be traditional and use red wine, if that's your poison.
Peel the pears whole, keeping the little stalk on. Pack them tight enough in a pan so that they stand up. Fill the pan up half way up the pears with water and add spices (such as cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cardamon) and a little sugar if needed. Cover with a tight fitting lid and poach for about an hour. Cooking them upright means that the tops, which are narrower, don't overcook compared to the bulbous bottoms.
When they're ready, turn off the heat and leave them until you're ready to serve them. Take them out and let them drain, before putting them on the plate. Melt some grated chocolate (yes, I love Green & Black's 85%) by adding a few spots of boiling water at a time until you get a rich thick sauce. Serve with either Vanllia Ice-cream or Cream.
I think the proper way to do the chocolate sauce is to wait till the pears are cold, put them in the freezer for a few minutes until the surface is very cold, then take them out and quickly coat them in the chocolate. The chilled pears make the chocolate set, and also stop the ice-cream melting into a soup like mess. However, I prefer the warmth of the pears at this time of year.
Now if you can enjoy every single mouthful of this filled with deep gratitude that heaven landed on your plate, then you are living life abundantly and prosperously. You know that your lifestyle is healthy enough already, you get enough exercise and mental relaxation to be able to enjoy the sense of fulfillment
If not, then get over it.