Every New Years Eve my husband and I stay home and have raw oysters, lobster and champagne. This has been our tradition ever since we moved to Minnesota, 15 years ago. Graham proposed to me on NYE so it has always been a special night for us. This year our two young boys joined us in the celebration. They helped to shuck the oysters and then reluctantly slid them down. Our 9 year old was satisfied with just one and will perhaps forgo this part of the tradition next year and head straight for the lobster! 😉 Our 7 year old, on the other hand, ate the oysters like popcorn. The only problem with having a child who likes raw oysters is now I have to share!
After a meal this rich I wanted something decadent, but light. Poached pears seemed the perfect ending, but with a twist on the classic . Pears slowly poached in chocolate sauce. Gorgeous and luscious, but absolutely no fat in the entire recipe. The 4 of us ushered in the New Year while playing scrabble and eating our pears! Not exactly the dance-all-night-raves of our youth, but just as wonderful!
Chocolate Poached Pears:
6-8 very firm pears, peeled and cored  (the amount will depend on their size.)
8 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split open and scraped 
1″ piece of cinnamon bark 
Over medium heat, bring the water, cocoa, sugar, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick to a boil in a large pot  and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Turn heat down to low.
Add the pears.
Allow to simmer for up to 2 hours. You will need to gently turn them so that they are cooking evenly in the chocolate sauce. To test if they are done, stick a fork gently inside of the cored pear  so that you don’t leave marks on the outside. Once they are tender on the inside, remove the pears. Turn up the heat on the pot and cook the chocolate poaching liquid until it thickens, about 10-15 minutes. You want it thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Spoon the sauce on the plate. Add your pear and drizzle more sauce over the pear. If you want to add a bit of richness to the plate you can stuff the pear with some lightly sweetened ricotta .
*Jeff and I sent off the manuscript for book #2 yesterday! Can I just tell you how wonderful that feels! Now we look forward to several months of testing the recipes, editing the text and doing that over and over again, until it goes to print in the fall.