All of the elements of this dish can be prepared ahead of time. The pears and chocolate sauce will keep for several days in the fridge, and the filo wafers will keep perfectly in a sealed container overnight or longer.
To serve, combine the pears and their juices, softly whipped cream, chocolate sauce and filo wafers either in individual portions or bringing all of the elements to the table to be served family style.
C 300ml softly whipped cream.
Caramelised Filo Wafers
Lay a sheet of filo on your worktop. Paint with melted butter and dust all over with sieved icing sugar. Lay the second sheet of filo on top neatly and accurately trying to avoid any air bubbles. Repeat the butter and sugar process before applying a third sheet of filo and again buttering and dusting with sieved icing sugar.
Using a chopping knife, cut the sheet of filo into the required shapes. I usually cut the pieces into rectangles measuring 6cm x 15cm, but you can be creative here and cut whatever shapes you prefer. With a palate knife, carefully remove to a baking tray. Place another tray to fit exactly on top so that the filo wafers are secure. Bake for about 7 minutes or until the filos are crisp and a deep golden colour. You will have to carefully lift the top tray during the cooking process to check the colour of the filo. Remove immediately to a wire rack to cool.
Alternatively, do not cover with the second tray but bake uncovered until a deep golden colour is achieved.
Compote of Pears
Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler and half each one neatly from top to bottom to attain 8 halves. Remove the cores and any tough fibres – I use a melon-baller for this exercise, though a sharp teaspoon also works. Place the pears into a heavy saucepan into which they fit quite snugly. Peel 4 thin strips off the lemon and add to the pears along with all of the juice from the lemon. Sprinkle on the caster sugar and the lightly crushed cardamom pods if using. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and a tight fitting lid and cook over a very low heat until the pears are tender. This takes about 30 minutes but the time will vary according to the ripeness of the pears used. Allow the cooked pears to cool completely. These pears can be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated.
Melt the chocolate in a pyrex bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove the bowl and whisk in the warm syrup and flavouring of choice.
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Stir several times as it comes to the boil to encourage the sugar to dissolve. Allow to boil for two minutes. Cool and store covered in the fridge. It keeps for several weeks.