One of the things about a good recipe, is that they change a bit over time and become personal in the hands of the chef! Such is the case with this particular dessert, my own fathers personal favorite! We first became acquainted with it many years ago in Atlantic City at Bruno's Knife and Fork, a basic chop house known for decent steaks and not much else! Well, it quickly became my mother's raison d etre' to replicate it and for months she tried without success. Chocolate pear dessert (as it was known then) is made of just three ingredients, semi sweet chocolate chips, whipping cream and pears. Not too tough, but mom just couldn't make it work! No matter what she tried, the chocolate just wouldn't harden! Finally in desperation, she called the restaurant and begged for the secret! I still remember when she got off of the phone shaking her head muttering, "canned pears, can you believe they use canned pears?"
Well, it turns out that canned pears are absolutely the trick, but not without one other magical ingredient! About half of a cup of the warmed pear syrup from the can is what it takes to make the chocolate harden perfectly , creating a velvety chocolate shell that is a delightful foil to the whipped cream and pears nestled underneath! Dance forward a few years, and I'm a young married woman having my best friend Bethane and her husband over for dinner. Of course I made these pears for dessert, Bethane is a confirmed chocolate addict (her husband wooed her in high school by putting Hershey bars in her glove box as love gifts!) and I knew that they would be perfect! She loved them of course, and later called my mother for the recipe. Bethane began to make these for her father who begged for them every Christmas, and they became known as Al's Christmas Pears! I must give credit where it is due and tell you that she has made a good recipe even better! I have been begging her for a few years now to tell me what she added and finally I know! Her additions are simple, but they make all of the difference between a good dessert and a really great dessert. And if you're like me, I know that you'll prefer a great dessert!
The picture taken by Dr. Carl Evans is of Bethane (with a chocolate ice cream cone of course!), Laurel, her daughter and her father Al, gone several years now, but still one of the two amazing dad's in my life. I loved that man, and every year since his death we have his Christmas pears on Yule night. There's always more gone then we remember serving , so I know he's still getting his share!
You will need:
2 14 and a half oz cans of pear halves with lite syrup (not juice!)
1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 twelve oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
Bethane's addtions are:
Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a shot of really good scotch!
Drain and chill the pears (reserving the syrup!) and layer them in a pretty bowl (then chill some more!)
Whip the cream until stiff and spread over the chilled pears, then put them into the freezer for a while so that they are really cold , but not frozen solid!
Melt the chocolate alone in a double boiler, and add a dash of cinnamon. Add a little warmed pear juice about 1/2 a cup (must be warm!) to which you've added more cinnamon, good fresh nutmeg and the scotch stirring until pourable.
Pour the chocolate over the pears and refrigerate or freeze until set!
Easy and Perfect!