3/4 cup caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, pith removed
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 beurre bosc pears
2 sheets frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, partially thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
100ml thickened cream
100g dark chocolate, chopped
Icing sugar, to dust
Ice-cream, to serve (optional)
Put water, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla bean paste in a deep saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, then increase heat to high and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, peel pears, leaving stem attached.
Add pears to pan and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender, turning half-way though.
Remove pears with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
Remove pear core with a melon baller, starting from base and working half-way into pear.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Cut pastry sheets into 1.5cm strips.
Pat pears dry with paper towel. Starting at the top of one pear, wrap pastry strips around surface, slightly overlapping until pear is completely covered. Repeat with remaining pears and pastry strips. Put wrapped pears on prepared tray.
Brush pastry with a little egg and bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Meanwhile, to make chocolate sauce, put cream into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until smooth.
Dust pears with icing sugar and serve with chocolate sauce and ice-cream, if desired.