Chocolate drizzle and caramelized pear question
Ok, so I've decided to make vanilla bean panna cottas with caramelized pears and chocolate drizzle for Christmas eve dessert. Before I go hunting all over the internet for a good recipe for the chocolate drizzle - which I think should be served room temperature - does anyone have an excellent one? I could, of course, just melt bittersweet chocolate in whipping cream, but this would congeal as it cools, which I don't want. I'd like a nice deep chocolate flavour that remains drizzle-able.
As for the pears, I plan to peel and quarter them and saute in butter with a bit of brown sugar. I was thinking, since I plan to serve port with this, that I could add some port to the pears as they cook. But also, since there will be the chocolate sauce, I don't want there to be too much going on here. Suggestions?
Update. So I made the dessert as follows: vanilla bean panna cotta, bittersweet chocolate port sauce and pears roasted with brown sugar. It was delicious - all agreed - but to be honest, I wouldn't serve exactly this again.
The pears, which tasted nice enough, looked like dead slugs on the plate. One dinner guest picked one up on his fork and good-humouredly observed this fact which I couldn't stop thinking about afterward. And even though the chocolate drizzle was intense and tasty, I decided I really prefer the slight hit of acidity of a good balsamic or some fresh fruit with panna cotta. Don't get me wrong - there were no complaints (other than the dead slug business) and I am being hyper-self-critical. But next time: panna cotta with balsamic and berries OR roasted/poached pears with chocolate. Not both together. Port was served - I think I drank most of it. (Alas.)
Anyway - thank you for all your suggestions. A wonderful evening was had by all, despite my own perfectionism OCD.
Oh perfect! I'm going to roast the pears - simply, with butter and brown sugar - and serve with the bittersweet chocolate port sauce. And yes, I have a nice bottle of port waiting to serve with it. This is going to be good. Will report afterward. Thank you bushwickgirl and TorontoJo.
Sounds wonderful! I love pears roasted like that. In the past, I've made a butterscotch sauce with the butter and brown sugar left in the roasting pan, but the chocolate sauce sounds like a great alternative. I would personally add some sugar or corn syrup to the recipe I linked to, unless you truly want a bittersweet chocolate sauce. I find bittersweet chocolate with no additional sugar to be a bit too bitter for my taste.
I would add corn syrup or a liqueur to the chocolate sauce to keep it liquid. And since you are serving port, how about putting the port in the chocolate sauce, rather than the pears? I think I would prefer the pears themselves to have just the flavor of the butter and sugar.
I'm glad to hear of your decision; I think it'll be a nice dessert. For the pears, peel and quarter and saute as you stated, but you can also roast them in halves, with brown sugar, butter and maybe a piece or two of orange peel, just a hint. After roasting, cut them into quarters. Either way is nice, although the roasted pear has a nice cararmelized exterior you might not get from the sauteed fruit. If you add a little port to the sauteing or roasting fruit, it'll color it further, it's up to you, it'll make a nice syrupy sauce whe reduced, but it's not really necessary, and you do have a few flavors going on in the dessert already, as you wrote. Personally, I'd skip the port in the dessert, but definitely have a glass or two after.
Here's a chocolate syrup for drizzling recipe, from my files, similar to a ganache but thinner. It should be warmed first, if refrigerated, and can be kept at room temperature after making the day of, but should be refrigerated for longer storage. It also freezes well. It's thinner than ganache, drizzles nicely from a squeeze bottle, and makes about 1 1/2 cups:
8 ounces great quality bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar, or light brown sugar is better
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla
Chop chocolate finely and put into a medium bowl; set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a full boil, stirring frequently, and pour the hot mixture over the chocolate; stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in vanilla.
Here's another version, from Dorie Greenspan, no corn syrup and less sugar, which might be more desireable with the sweet pears and panna cotta:
Between the two sauces, I prefer the Dorie version for it's less sweet character but it's not as chocolatey as sauce #1. You can add an ounce more chopped chocolate if you want without it thickening up too much.
I hope your dessert comes out as you desire, and that you have a wonderful meal. Enjoy!