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Poached Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange rind
  • 2 Tbsp fresh gingerroot, grated
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 firm ripe pears
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 1-ounce squares semisweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or brandy
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Yield: 4 Servings. Combine first 6 ingredients in a 2-quart casserole. Microwave at HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Peel pears, and core just from the bottom, cutting to, but not through, the stem end. Baste pears with lemon juice. Place pears on their sides in brandy mixture in casserole. Cover tightly with heavy-duty plastic wrap; fold back a small edge of wrap to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 4 minutes. Uncover, baste pears with brandy mixture, and turn them over. Cover and microwave at HIGH 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. (A sharp knife should pierce the fruit as it would room-temperature butter, yet fruit should retain its shape.) Let pears cool in liquid, turning and basting once. Place pears on individual serving dishes. Place chocolate in a 1-quart glass bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) 2 to 3 minutes or until melted, stirring every minute. Cool slightly. Add whipping cream, corn syrup, Grand Marnier, and vanilla; stir until smooth. Spoon chocolate sauce over pears.

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