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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Pears Hélène Day

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Poires Belle Hélène, shown without the ice cream. Photo by Teresa Kasprzycka | Dreamstime.
 

If you’ve never had Pears Hélène (more properly called Poire Belle Hélène), today’s the day: National Pears Helene Day.

The dessert owes its origin to the opera La belle Hélène by composer Jacques Offenbach. It’s a comedic take on the elopement of Queen Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, with Prince Paris of Troy.

The opera debut, in, 1864, was a big success, and the dessert was developed by the great chef Auguste Escoffier as a tribute.

The dessert is composed of poaced pears, topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and crystallized violets (today sliced almonds generally replace the candied violets).

It’s easy to poach a few pears, top with ice cream and your favorite chocolate sauce, and sprinkle on the almonds. Make Pears Hélène for dessert tonight.

  • Here’s the recipe for Pears Hélène.
  • Find more recipes for casual and fancy desserts in our Desserts Section. and pull down the Gourmet menu at the right.
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