chocolate pear clafoutis

Poached pears? One thing leads to another. In this case a pear comeback in the dr bob cooking team kitchen.

bob eats apples for lunch at work. Not a big apple enthusiast, they seem to be more user friendly than pears. And if you are eating fruit like medicine as an investment in present and future health, they get the job done. Pears always seem as hard as rocks in the supermarket, a bit deceptive since they usually give way when eaten raw, although sometimes they are too soft and then messy to eat. And the geometry is less adapted to peeling with that narrow top and concave inward shape. Excuses. But sometimes the threshhold for avoiding food items is pretty low. At least for bob.

Cooking partner ms_ani (okay, kitchen boss) has the memory of an elephant. If what they say about elephants is true. bob was choosing dessert at the end of a pleasant Valentine's Day Eve dinner at an upscale local mall restaurant (translate: easy parking, beat the crowd sure to appear the next day). Since she is not a dessert person, there was little incentive to choose something appealing to her, but bob tried anyway steering clear of the obvious chocolate laden dish heading instead for the poached pear with ice cream (fruit, isn't that supposed to be healthy?) Ani recalls a memorable dinner many decades earlier in  Rome with Chantal and Gianfranco, Emanuela and Domenico, the one which led to our later attempt to recreate Chantal's simple but tasty pureed French onion soup (no globs of melted cheese topping). The ending was poached pear. Chantal's parents were Italians who moved to France where she grew up, so there was a French edge to the menu. A delightful combination of two renowned cuisines. The poached pears bob sort of remembered vaguely once prompted. Maybe.

The next day at our membership big box store Costco, bob decides to grab some Bosc pears to give them a chance. Shortly afterwards checking out the discounted food magazines (30 percent off)  on the way to the checkout, one stands out with an apple dessert on the cover: tarte tartin. Which could easily be converted to the pear version. Inside reveals several other recipes with pears. Destiny strikes. bob grabs the magazine.

A few days later a weekend family dinner provides the excuse for the chocolate pear clafoutis. The "s" is probably silent, from what little bob remembers of French (after studying it for the physics language requirement 3 weeks before starting grad school, then arriving to find the requirement cancelled). And it has bittersweet chocolate: a win win. The pear prep, poaching and cooling takes a few hours, followed by the dessert assembly and baking. Not an inconsiderable investment of time and effort. But yes, it was worth it. If you are a real chocolate lover.

We had to make some modifications. No almond extract on hand so we used Frangelico hazelnut liqueur to which we are partial and would have probably swapped in anyway. No cardamon, probably Ani threw bob's old spice jar away or gave it to her mom from lack of attention for many years. And the last cinnamon stick was used up for the Armenian cinammon rice dish in preparation for the evening meal. Powder had to substitute. The original recipe called for Chablis or any dry white wine but Chablis has a mental association with cheap American wine in bob's not very informed wine knowledge base (perhaps unfairly so), so we went with a white we had multiple bottles of on hand because we liked it.

By coincidence Martha (there's only one in the cooking world) was doing a nectarine clafloutis on Saturday afternoon public TV as we finished off our experiment. Obviously one can do other fruit variations of this recipe. Martha followed it up by a plum upside down cake. We need to do more baking.


poached pears
 2 c (480g) dry white wine
1 cinnamon stick (5g, we had to use 1 t powder)
1 t (4g) almond extract (we used Frangelico)
5 whole cloves
1/8 t kosher salt
1/8 t ground cardamom (we had to use nutmeg)
2 medium Bosc pears (500g), halved and cored
  (we used 4 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and quartered)
 1 c (240 g) heavy whipping cream, warmed
3 large eggs (150g)
1/2 c (63g) all-purpose flour
1/2 c (85g) 63% cacao dark chocolate chips, melted
  (we used 60% bittersweet Girardelli premium chocolate baking chips)
1/3 c (67g) granulated sugar
1 t (4g) almond extract (Frangelico again)
1/8 t kosher salt
confectioners' sugar garnish


  1. Start by poaching the pears. Prep them first by peeling, quartering and coring them.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine all the poaching stuff and add the pears.
  3. If the pears are not covered by the liquid, add a bit of water to accomplish this.
  4. Cook over medium heat until the pears are tender, about 1 hour. We were careless and the liquid evaporated by the end of the hour while we were not paying attention, but did not burn (much).
  5. Strain the pears from the liquid and let cool (refrigerate to save time here).
  6. After a bit, preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Lightly spray a 9.5 in cast iron skillet (or ceramic baking dish) with cooking spray (ours was a 10 incher).
  7. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, sugar, then slowly whisk in the warm cream with the extract (Frangelico), then the melted chocolate. Let sit 10 minutes to rest. Makes about 3 c batter.
  8. Slice the pears into thin strips while waiting.
  9. Then pour half the batter in the bottom of the skillet/whatever and bake for 10 minutes to solidify the base.
  10. Pour in the rest of the batter and then arrange the pear slices as artistically as possible on top. The prebaking must help the pears not sink immediately to the bottom.
  11. Bake an additional 30 minutes until set in the center. Do the usual toothpick cake test.
  12. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving, dusting with optional confectioners' sugar. We finished a few hours before dinner.


  1. not chantal's onion soup (roasted garlic and onion cream soup).
  2. baking from scratch:The French Issue (Spring 2019). Lillie Mermoud reimagines her grandmother's cherry clafoutis in the retro redo section.
  3. Mistral KoP. [Thanks, John and Tiffany!]
  4. On second thought, maybe the chocolate is a bit too much here. Next time we will try a version without.
  5. Illustrations available.
chocpearclafloutis.htm: 4-mar-2019 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]