Change up your chocolate mousse and berry pairing – pears and chocolate are a match made in heaven! To check if a pear is firm, text the neck of the pear by gently squeezing the flesh near the stem.
Serves 8-10 individual jars
Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes plus 4 hours for setting mousse
3 firm pears
125ml full cream milk
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. Nutella
240g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
600ml pouring cream, whipped
250ml marsala or port wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
Zest of 1 lemon
4 bay leaves
A handful of hazelnuts
To make the chocolate mousse, place the milk and nutella in a saucepan over low medium heat and allow to come up just before boiling point. Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar and pinch of salt until combined and place chocolate in a separate bowl.
When the milk is ready, gradually whisk it into the egg mixture until all combined and return mixture back to the saucepan over low medium heat. Cook whilst continuously stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Take the custard off the heat and set aside. Stir to combine and pour over the chocolate. Without disturbing, allow the custard to melt the chocolate for 2 minutes. Whisk the mixture until smooth (if the chocolate hasn't fully melted, simply return the entire mixture to the stove top over low heat and gently stir and melt through).
Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Fold through the whipped cream, pour into individual serving jars and allow to set in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the pears in a roasting dish, nice and snug. Add the marsala, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon zest and bay leaves. Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Uncover the foil and roast for a further 20 minutes. The pears should be soft and wrinkly. When cool enough to handle, slice the pears into quarters removing the seeds and core.
To serve, add a dollop of crème fraiche to the mousse jar, a wedge of marsala pear, drizzle with marsala cooking syrup, sprinkle with hazelnuts.
The MasterChef winner and dessert extraordinaire has put the 'pear-fect' spin on three popular desserts to sweeten taste buds this entertaining season
This year's MasterChef winner, Larissa Takchi, who shot to fame thanks to her delicious and striking desserts, has created three unique pear dishes just in time for the start of entertaining season. Switching out the traditional fruits used in some of Australia's most well-known desserts, Larissa has created three daring pear-ings including; Sticky Pear Pudding, Dark Chocolate Mousse with Marsala Pears and Caramelised Pear Bread.
Larissa commented; "I absolutely love cooking with Australian Pears and experimenting with these traditional dessert recipes has been a lot of fun. Pears are a great option when cooking savoury and sweet dishes, and luckily for us Aussies we have a wide range of pear varieties grown here in Australia, available all year round and each with unique flavour profiles and colours.
"I also love how versatile pears are which is why I often incorporated the fruit into dishes during my time on MasterChef and on the menu at our aptly named Wild Pear Café! Their gentle sweetness allows them to pair well with a number of ingredients, and they can be enjoyed fresh, grilled, poached, puréed or baked – making them one of my favourite fruits to cook with."
Larissa has provided her top tips for using pears:
• If you're looking for a ripe pear, press the neck lightly near the stem – if the flesh gives a little, the pear is ripe and ready to enjoy! There are a couple of sure-fire ways to speed up the ripening process too – pop them in a paper bag or sit them snug next to other fruit in a bowl.
• Experiment with different varieties of pears depending on your dish – William and Packham pears are sweet and juicy so taste great fresh or cooked. Try Beurré Bosc for poaching – they have a buttery flavour and are slightly firmer, so hold their shape well during cooking.
• Pears compliment a wide range of ingredients – try these pear-ings: cinnamon, ginger, chocolate, citrus, honey, cheese, ricotta, nuts, vanilla, wine, pork and chicken.
• Don't overlook an overripe pear – they are fantastic for chutneys and jams
For more ins-pear-ation visit AustralianPears.com.au.