I’d intended to do something utterly decadent and fabulous that somehow involved chocolate eggs with marshmallow filling for this post. Something tongue in cheek. Something irreverent. Because that, of course, is my default setting.
Then I was invited to take part in the Fairtrade Fortnight Foodie Challenge that coincides with Fairtrade’s two-week The Power Of You campaign. And I said yes. Yes, this is serious. Not my usual style. But it’s also important. Because you see, Fairtrade stands for so many of the things I really believe in.
In their own words, Fairtrade is: “an ethical certification whose main aim is to promote more equality and sustainability in the farming sector. A product that carries the Fairtrade Certification Mark has met the rigorous Fairtrade Standards, which focus on improving labour and living conditions for farming communities and on promoting a way of farming that doesn’t harm either people or the environment.”
That’s a lot of words, but really, it all boils down to this: being kind to each other and to our planet. Kindness. Such an undervalued little word. But it makes the world go round. It’s The Power Of You.
I opened my challenge basket and discovered Bean There coffee (I’ve written about them before, read about it here), De Bos Merlot (how very fitting) and Green & Black’s 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate. Hmmm. The rules said I had to use all three.
So here it is… Spiced red wine-poached pears with coffee-chocolate sauce, instant almond ice cream (because pears love almond) and (because we need a bit of crunch) some almond brittle too. I wish you a blessed Easter. If you’re travelling, be safe. And wherever you are, be kind.
All you need is…
For the pears
2 cups red wine (I used the De Bos Merlot)
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
For the brittle
½ cup flaked almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 cup sugar
For the coffee-chocolate sauce
¾ cup fresh cream
100g 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate (I used Green & Black’s)
¼ cup strong coffee (I used Bean There)
2 tbs golden syrup
For the almond ice cream
Good quality vanilla ice cream
Good quality almond essence
To make the pears: Add the red wine, cup of sugar and spices to a saucepan and heat through until the sugar is dissolved. (Tip: You want the pears to fit tightly and the red wine to cover them, so use a smallish saucepan.)
Peel the pears (Tip: Leave the stems on, it makes them easier to pick up and pretty to boot). Place pears in red wine and boil over low heat until the pears are soft. (Tip: Yes, I’m full of them today… use slightly under-ripe pears so they stand up to the boiling.) Once soft, turn off and leave pears in the red wine so they continue to soak up flavour. You can serve the pears either cold or at room temperature.
To make the brittle: Spray a non-stick baking tray with Spray ’n Cook (that’s a non-stick cooking spray for my foreign readers). Melt the sugar over medium heat. As soon as it’s melted, pour onto the baking tray and sprinkle immediately with almonds. Set aside.
To make the ice cream: Melt the ice cream just enough so it can be easily stirred. Stir in a few drops of almond essence. (Tip: Add a bit at a time, taste as you go and see how ‘almondy’ you like it. I like it quite a lot!) Place back in freezer to firm up.
To make the chocolate sauce: Chop chocolate. Heat cream until just below boiling point. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir until it’s melted, then add the coffee and syrup and stir well. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Serve pears with a generous dollop of ice cream, a sliver or two of almond brittle and a jug of chocolate sauce on the side.