Crêpes Belle Hélène is a spin-off from the German dessert, Poire belle Helene which was created around 1864 by Auguste Escoffier and named after the operetta La belle Helene. The original dessert consisted of pears poached in sugar syrup served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and crystallized violets.
We first developed our spin on this classic for Allergic Living Magazine. It quickly became one of our favorite desserts and we’re excited to share it while pears are plentiful.
Let’s get poaching!
Poaching is a cooking method where foods are cooked in a flavorful liquid over low heat.
The pears are best poached a day in advance. This allows time for the pears to absorb more color and flavor from the poaching liquid.
Bring Rosé wine, water, and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. You can replace sugar with maple syrup or honey. We tried all three. Joel’s favorite is with organic cane sugar because it provided a more neutral sweetness. We only used 1/2 cup of maple syrup and 1/3 cup of honey in those batches. The flavors in the latter 2 seemed to slightly overpower the pears.
We love poaching pears to achieve a brilliant pink color. Our original recipe had an option of adding 1/4 cup of grenadine. What a beautiful pear the combination produced!
However, the only grenadine we could find was the popular Rose’s brand which is made from high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate, Red dye 40 and Blue dye 1, and natural and artificial flavors. Yikes! Okay, I’ve used Rose’s in the industry because that’s what we had available and I wasn’t paying attention to the label. Because we’ve stopped using high fructose corn syrup and artificial stuff, let’s skip the grenadine. Although there are some brands of grenadine that do use real pomegranates without artificial ingredients. You can even make your own with pomegranate juice, sugar, lemon juice, and orange flower water.
To just make things easier we thought about dried hibiscus flowers, also known as jamaica. We had some in the pantry so decided to give it a try. So let’s continue…
When the poaching liquid comes to a boil, remove the pot from the heat. Add hibiscus flowers and let steep for 10 minutes.
While the hibiscus flowers are steeping, peel the pears and cut them in half from top to bottom. Using a melon baller, scoop out the seed pocket. With a small paring knife, cut a shallow “V” down the center of the pear’s cut side to remove the stem, string, and bud end.
Strain the poaching liquid into a container, discarding the hibiscus flowers. Return the liquid to the saucepan.
Place the pear halves, strips of lemon and orange rinds, and a cinnamon stick in the saucepan with the poaching liquid. Cut a circle from parchment paper and set directly on top of the pears. The parchment paper will ensure the pears are submerged in the liquid so they take on the color of the poaching liquid.
Simmer the pears until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Don’t stir, but flip the pears over from time to time to ensure they absorb color evenly. Poaching time will vary depending on the size and ripeness of the pears.
The Best Pear for Poaching
The popular Bosc pear is the best option for poaching because they hold their shape well when poached. Anjou pears are another top choice. It’s best to use firm pears that are ripe, but not overly ripe.
When the pears are done, turn off the heat and let the pears cool in the poaching liquid. When cool enough, place pears and liquid in the refrigerator overnight to let the pears absorb more color and flavor.
For the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Gently warm hemp milk in a microwave or heat in a small saucepan just until warm. Whisk the milk into the melted chocolate until smooth and glossy. Set aside at room temperature.
For the crepes, make a half batch of Basic Crepe Batter.
- Half it: To add fillings, you can either add to the top of the crepe before folding in half or add a half poached pear fanned out on top of your folded crepe.
- Roll it: Cut each pear half lengthwise into 6 slices. Fan 3 in the middle at 12 o’clock and fan 3 at 6 o’clock. Fold one side over the filling towards the middle. Fold the other side up and over the pears to overlap in the middle as shown below.
- Quarter it: Gently fold the crepe in half, then fold in half again. Slide the pear slices underneath the top fold as shown below.
To assemble, choose your fold. Serve with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce.
We hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
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Crepes Belle Helene
Yield 6 Crepes
Free of: gluten and top 8 allergens.
A delicious fall dessert you'll want all year round!
2 cups Rosé wine (see recipe notes)
3-1/4 cups water
3/4 cup organic cane sugar (see recipe notes)
1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers (jamaica)
3 (2-inch) strips lemon rind
3 (2-inch) strips orange rind
1 cinnamon stick
3 bosc pears
8 ounces good quality allergen free chocolate, chopped into pieces
1 cup hemp milk
1/2 recipe Basic Crepe Batter
- For the poached pears, in a medium saucepan combine the Rosé, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add hibiscus flowers. Let steep for 10 minutes.
- While the hibiscus flowers are steeping, peel the pears and cut them in half from top to bottom. Using a melon baller, scoop out the seed pockets. With a small paring knife, cut a shallow “V” down the center of each pear’s cut side to remove the stem, string, and bud end.
- Strain the poaching liquid into a container, discarding the hibiscus flowers. Return the liquid to the saucepan.
- Place the pear halves, lemon and orange rinds, and cinnamon stick in the saucepan with the poaching liquid and rest a circle of parchment paper directly on top of the pears. The parchment paper will ensure the pears are submerged in the liquid so they take on the color of the poaching liquid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When boiling reduce heat to medium-low and a gentle simmer and poach until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Don't stir, but flip the pears over occasionally to ensure they absorb color evenly. When the pears can be pierced easily with a fork, they are done. Turn off the heat and let the pears cool in the liquid. When cool enough, place pears and liquid in the refrigerator overnight to let the pears absorb more color and flavor. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- For the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Gently warm the hemp milk in a microwave or heat in a small saucepan just until warm. Add the milk to the chocolate and whisk together for several minutes until smooth and glossy. Set aside at room temperature.
- For the crêpes, make crepes using a half batch of Basic Crepe Batter.
- To assemble, place a crêpe in the center of a plate. Cut each pear half lengthwise into 6 slices. Fan 3 in the middle at 12 o’clock and fan 3 at 6 o’clock. Fold the edges of the crepe up and over the pears to overlap in the middle. Place a scoop of your favorite frozen dessert in the center. Drizzle with chocolate sauce. Delicious!
We first developed Crepes Belle Helene for Allergic Living Magazine.
For an alcohol free version, substitute pomegranate juice or cranberry juice for the wine and increase the sugar to 1 cup.
You can substitute 1/2 cup of maple syrup or 1/2 cup honey for the sugar. Be aware that these substitutions will slightly overpower the pears...but will still be good.
Dried hibiscus flowers, or jamaica, can be found at Mexican markets, some Whole Foods Markets, and online.