One of my favorite things about countries is their special take on other countries food. Like orange chicken or fortune cookies to represent chinese cuisine. Like soft croissants and macarons to represent French cuisine. Like hamburgers and sandwiches to represent American cuisine. The kind of stuff that might be similar, but off, and nobody really eats as often as stereotypes think they do.
In France, I saw a lot of inspired potato chips. For example:
This stuff is even a bit late coming here…
However, by far the most surprising thing I ever saw in the supermarche in France was this :
Pears in a bottle of wine (along side two bars of Milka chocolate that was SO FREAKING GOOD). Nothing special about pears in a bottle of wine? Agreed except I stared at it for like a full half our and still could not figure out how the company stuffed pears into that small necked bottle. None. Of course, everyone thinks well they probably just stuffed it in through the bottom which is actually probably the correct answer but there was no seam.
The case of the pear too large for the opening will be forever unsolved.
Because of these pears, I decided to make these poached pears with chocolate panna cotta because who doesn’t like pears and chocolate and cinnamon?! It was totally the right decision because they were just firm with hints of honey and spice, crunchy from the speculoos crumble, and melt-in-your-mouth from the panna cotta. No regrets.
// Almost any mixture of milk + cream will work for the panna cotta. I like using only milk because it results in a fun jiggle and a clean taste.
// You can omit the apple cider/juice for the pears and substitute water with a pinch of cinnamon.
// Poached pears trick (the parchment paper thingy) from David.
Place 1/4 cup of milk in a bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin.
Pour the rest of the liquid into a saucepan and heat until very hot. Pour a few tablespoons over the chocolate to melt it and stir until a smooth ganache forms. Pour the chocolate mixture back into the pan, add the gelatin while constantly stirring, then add the sugar and cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes.
Divide the mixture into a few oiled bowls.
Let rest in the refrigerator until firm, about 4-6 hrs.
Cut each pear in half and peal and core. Place into a medium saucepan and pour over the water, honey, and apple cider/juice. Make sure the pears are covered (if not, add a little more water until covered). Cut a parchment circle with a hole and fan it out so that it covers the top of the liquid to keep the pears from turning brown.
Simmer over medium-low heat until soft, around 20-30 minutes.
Invert the panna cotta by placing the bowl into warm water for about 30 seconds and flipping it onto a plate. Cut the poached pears and place next to the panna cotta. Sprinkle on the roughly crushed speculoos cookies.