Poires Belle Helene, the Classic French Pear Dessert

French pear dessert

The Spruce 

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
488 Calories
14g Fat
94g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 488
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 17%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 23mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 94g 34%
Dietary Fiber 12g 42%
Protein 4g
Calcium 98mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Few desserts come more classic than this delightful Poires Belle Helene. The dish is essentially poached pears with a chocolate sauce but certainly sounds so much more enticing with its beautiful enticing French name.

The dessert was reputably invented by the godfather of haute cuisine, Auguste Escoffier in Paris in the 19th century and purportedly named after the opera, La Belle Helen (the beautiful Helen) by Offenbach.

Without a doubt, the ease of preparation and beautiful presentation make this dish a stunning dessert for a dinner party, which is bound to impress but is equally impressive at any meal. What is not to love about pears, chocolate and ice cream; heaven in the bowl. 


  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water (divided)
  • 4 firm Bosc pears (peeled, cored (see below) and with stem intact)
  • 8 small scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1 /2 cup ​chocolate sauce (for drizzling)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    French pear dessert ingredients
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  2. Combine the cinnamon sticks, sugar, and 1/2 cup of water in a medium saucepan.

    Combine cinnamon and sugar
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  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 5 minutes, until it becomes a thick-like syrup and turns golden brown.

    Bring mixture to a bowl
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  4. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and gently whisk in the remaining 2 cups water, until the syrup is completely incorporated into the water.

    Turn heat to lowest setting
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  5. Add the prepared pears to the sugar syrup mixture and bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Test the doneness with a knife by pricking in the thickest part of the fruit; the pears are poached when they are just cooked through, but not completely soft. Be careful not to overcook or the pears will collapse, Bosc pears are renowned for doing dissolving too quickly.

    Add prepared pears to sugar
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  6. Allow the pears to cool in the syrup until they are at room temperature. Lift the pears carefully from the pan with a slotted spoon.

    Allow pears to cool
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  7. Serve with two small scoops of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. 

    Serve with chocolate and vanilla ice cream
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  8. Enjoy!

How to Core a Pear

  1. Lay the pear on its side. Using a sharp knife, take a thin slice from the base of the pear; this will expose the core and also create a flat surface on the base, so much better for serving the pear.

    Lay a pear on its side
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  2. Take a paring or vegetable knife and very carefully cut tight in and around the core (keep as close as you can to the core so as not to spoil the fruit or risk breaking through).

    Coring a pear
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  3. The core should come away easily, if not use a teaspoon to scoop it out.

Which Pears to Use for Poire Belle Helene

Choose firm but not overripe, unblemished pears making sure the stem is still intact. A favorite is the Bosc pear, which has smooth, even skin and shape, making it easier to peel.​