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Poached Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce
Yield: 4 Servings

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

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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