From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
6 ripe conference pears (peeled and halved)
300 ml apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla pod
2 whole star anise (optional)
50 g caster sugar
1 orange (sliced)
50 g toasted flaked almonds
for the chocolate mousse:
225 g plain chocolate (broken into squares, minimum 55% cocoa solids)
2 tblsp baileys irish cream liqueur
300 ml cream
for the chocolate fudge sauce:
350 g plain chocolate (broken into squares)
300 ml cream
75 g caster sugar
50 g unsalted butter
fresh mint sprigs, to decorate
Place the pear halves in a pan with the apple juice, cinnamon stick, vanilla pod, star anise, if using, the sugar and orange slices. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pear halves are tender. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in syrup. Remove the cooled pears with a slotted spoon. (Reserve the cooking juices to use in a fresh fruit salad).
To make the mousse, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the eggs with the Baileys in a separate bowl over a pan of simmering water until double in size. It is very important to ensure the water does not boil or it will cook the eggs.
Fold the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, then leave to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the cream in a bowl and then fold into the chocolate mousse. Cover with clingfilm and allow to rest for 2-3 hours or overnight is fine.
To make chocolate fudge sauce, melt the chocolate very gently in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Set aside. Place the cream in a separate pan with the caster sugar and butter. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Remove the cream mixture from heat and leave to cool down a little, then whisk in the melted chocolate until you have achieved a smooth sauce. Pour into a jug and cover with clingfilm. This sauce keeps very well in the fridge and can be warmed gently when needed.
To serve, scoop some of the chocolate mousse into each serving bowl. Carefully fan out the pear halves, removing the centre cores and place one beside each portion of mousse. Drizzle some of the chocolate fudge sauce over the fanned out pears. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and decorate with the mint.