Yields6 Servings
 3 firm pears
 450 ml cups water
 Strip of thinly pared orange rind
 1 vanilla pod
 1 bay leaf
 50 g granulated sugar
 350 g puff pastry
 40 g cocoa powder
 75 ml double cream
 1 tbsp butter, softened
 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
 25 g walnuts, chopped
 1 egg beaten
 1 tbsp caster sugar

cut the pears in half and scoop out just the cores with a melon baller or small spoon


put the water in a small pan with the orange rind, vanilla pod, bay leaf and sugar; bring to the boil, stirring well; add the pears and more water to cover


cover and cook very gently for about 15 minutes, or until just tender; remove the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the pastry; reserve the syrup


meanwhile roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut out six pear shapes, slightly larger than the pear halves; place the pastry shapes on greased baking sheets and chill for 30 minutes


remove the orange rind, vanilla pod and bay leaf from the reserved syrup, then return the syrup to the heat and boil rapidly for 10 minutes; blend the cocoa powder with 4 tbsp cold water in a separate pan


stir a few spoonfuls of the syrup into the cocoa paste, then whisk the paste into the syrup in the pan; continue to cook until reduced to about 150ml; remove the pan from the heat and add the cream to the syrup and stir well


preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6


mix together the butter, sugar and walnuts; pat the pears dry with kitchen paper, then spoon the filling into the cavity of each pear half


lightly brush the pastry pear shapes with a little beaten egg; put a pear half filled side down in the centre of each pastry shape


lightly sprinkle the pastries with a little caster sugar; bake for 12 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up around the pear and is golden brown; drizzle over some of the warm chocolate sauce and serve immediately

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