Life

James Street South Cookery School: Clafoutis and Pears poached in chocolate

Niall's tasty-sounding take on the French clafoutis
Niall McKenna

STATISTICALLY, this was one of the worst weeks of the year for us. We are all in a post-Christmas slump, all the chats around “how was your break?” have petered out so we now have to focus on work, life and the looming credit-card bills. Of course, the snow this week would not have helped and so thoughts have turned to comfort food that will make us feel better... when we skip the gym – again!

Friends and colleagues alike are talking about meal prepping and steering clear of carbs in January but we all need something to look forward to. So, with that in mind, this week’s recipes are two delicious desserts with a smidge of chocolate.

I firmly believe that if we all made more food at home we would be able to see what goes into the dishes and we can see how much sugar and butter is being used.

These two dishes both have sugar, butter and chocolate in them, so while both are very satisfying to eat, they also need to be reserved for your ‘cheat days’.

CLAFOUTIS

(Serves 8)

50g plain flour, sieved

30g cocoa powder, sieved

75g caster sugar, sieved

1 tblsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

250ml single cream

75g roughly chopped dark chocolate

20g unsalted butter, melted

8 plums, halved and stoned

Turn your oven to 180C. Start by sieving all the dry ingredients into a bowl. In a separate bowl add the eggs and cream. Stir and whisk until fully combined. Melt the chocolate in a Bain Marie (placing a bowl over a pot of water on a gentle heat, stirring until the chocolate has melted, making sure no water gets mixed in). Stir the chocolate into the cream. Grease a baking tray with a little melted butter and pour the chocolate and cream mix into the dish. Top with the plum halves and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and leave to cool slightly before serving.

 

PEARS POACHED IN CHOCOLATE

4 medium ripe pears

For the poaching liquor:

400ml water

100g caster sugar

100g good quality dark chocolate, in pieces

I/2 lemon, juiced

Start by making the poaching liquor, as the pears need to be soft for this to work and taste its best. Place the water, sugar and lemon juice into a medium-heavy-based saucepan and heat gently. Add the chocolate and melt, stirring well. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Carefully peel the pears, keeping their shape and leaving the stalks intact. Using an apple corer, remove the centre of the pear from the bottom, removing the core and seeds. You want the pears to stand straight on the plate, so if you have to slice at the bottom then do this now.

Place the pears into the liquor and leave on a simmer. Place a bit of parchment over the pot as you want the pears to be submerged and cook evenly. Poach for 30 minutes as you want them soft but not crumbly.

Lift the cooked pears out and place on to a warm plate, standing up. Leave the pot of syrup on the heat and turn up and let the liquor reduce a bit more into a syrup. Pour the reduced liquor over the pears and serve.

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