Chocolate desserts need really sweet, intensely flavoured wines that are able to cut through the tongue-coating qualities and bitterness of cocoa. Dense, molasses-like fortified sweet wines such as Pedro Ximénez and Australian tokay are perfect: they have just the right strength, weight and concentration. As any sweet tooth will tell you, too, chocolate goes wonderfully well with raisins, which is pretty much what the ultra-ripe pedro or tokay grapes look like before they're harvested. I have also discovered, after years of research, that tokay has a particular affinity for cooked pears. Unlike muscat, which can be almost raisin-like in its fruit sweetness, tokay wines tend to have a little more of a savoury edge that complements the graininess you find in the texture of pear. Incidentally, as a result of a trade agreement with Europe, Australian winemakers have agreed to stop using the name "tokay" and have dreamt up a very similar alternative: expect to see bottles of "topaque" appearing on your wine shop shelf during the next few years.
Pairing this oozy, gooey dessert with a dense sweet wine is proof that you can never have too much of a good thing.
- 170 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
- 230 gm dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) thickened cream
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 60 gm caster sugar
- 15 gm (2 tbsp) crystallised ginger, finely chopped
- To serve: crème fraîche
- 500 gm caster sugar
- 250 ml Stone’s green ginger wine
- 4 ripe corella pears, halved, cores removed with a melon baller
- 1For ginger-poached pears, combine sugar, wine and 750ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to very low, add pears, cover closely with baking paper and turn occasionally until tender and translucent (1-1½ hours). Cool in syrup and reserve.
- 2Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Combine 120gm butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth (3-5 minutes), remove from heat and cool slightly. Whisk cream, eggs and 20gm caster sugar in a separate bowl until just combined, stir in chocolate mixture, then add crystallised ginger. Pour mixture into four 150ml-capacity ovenproof dishes and bake until just set with a slight wobble in centre (10-12 minutes). Cool to room temperature.
- 3Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, scatter remaining sugar in an even layer in base of pan and cook until starting to caramelise (3-4 minutes). Carefully add pears, cut-side down, and cook until golden (5-6 minutes). Add remaining butter and cook until melted (3-5 minutes). Remove pears with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Add 80ml poaching liquid to pan, stir to combine and simmer over medium heat until syrupy (3-5 minutes). Cool to room temperature. Serve baked chocolate cream with pears, caramel and crème fraîche.
Note This dessert is great served at room temperature, when it has a really fudgy texture. However, it's also good warm. Drink suggestion by Max Allen