Life & Style Weekend - - FOOD & WINE - Alas­tair Mcleod is chef-owner of Al’freshco, al­

Serves: 4


500ml wa­ter

500ml chardon­nay

500g sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

Pinch of saf­fron

½ le­mon, juiced + ad­di­tional for pears

1 clove

4 pears

150g choco­late

100ml pure cream

2½ tbsp pear Wil­liam liqueur 4 sheets gold leaf

Creme fraiche, op­tional


220g caster sugar

70g sliced al­monds, toasted un­til golden


Bring wa­ter, wine, sugar, vanilla, saf­fron, le­mon juice and clove to the boil. Mean­while, peel pears and rub with ad­di­tional le­mon juice. When they are all peeled, sub­merge in the poach­ing liq­uid and sim­mer gen­tly for 15-20 mins, de­pend­ing on size and ripeness. Re­move from heat and cool in liq­uid. Once cool, the core can be scooped out with a melon baller. To make the sauce, put the choco­late, cream and liqueur in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of barely sim­mer­ing wa­ter (mak­ing sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the wa­ter). Stir con­stantly as the choco­late melts un­til the sauce is smooth and glossy. For al­mond praline: Cook sugar in a heavy­based pan un­til golden. Stir in al­monds then tip on to a non-stick bak­ing sheet. Al­low to cool then blend to a fine pow­der. Sift a fine layer of praline on to a sil­i­cone mat. Bake in 180C oven un­til it remelts then re­move from oven and al­low to cool. To serve, driz­zle pear with sauce, gar­land with gold and ac­com­pany with shards of the praline. Serve with creme fraiche, op­tional.

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