Daring Cooks #11 – Chocolate Risotto with Poached Pears and Pistachio Cream

by Jenn on March 14, 2010

in Daring Kitchen,Desserts,Gluten Free,Pastas and Grains

I was so excited when it was announced that this month’s challenge was risotto!  I guess it wasn’t really that much of a challenge for me because I make risotto a lot, but I decided to make it interesting by doing something I’ve never done before – a sweet dessert risotto.  Fortunately risotto is naturally gluten free, so there were no modifications that had to be made on that end.  Because one of the requirements for the risotto was to make our own stock in which we cooked the risotto, I decided to poach some pears and use a mixture of poaching syrup and milk as my “stock”.  The risotto did not end up too sweet – I only used a cup of reduced poaching liquid because I did not want it sickly sweet – I also added on top some homemade pistachio cream.  Yes, this portion serving was huge (I halved it in the recipe)!  We split it for dinner, haha.

The mix ended up working out really well.  I knew pears and chocolate went together well, and I knew that pistachios and chocolate went together well, but I had never had all three in the same dish before.  I think the only thing that would have really improved upon this would have been to make the poaching syrup with honey rather than plain sugar – but maybe that would be introducing too many flavors into the dish, I’m not sure.  This current result was quite tasty – I loved the contrast of the rich dark chocolate risotto with the light sweetness of the pears and the pistachio cream.  It was a contrast not just in flavor but also texture, which made for a really great overall impression on the tongue.

I loved all of the room for creativity with this challenge – I think it is so neat when we are all given one technique and then just told to run with it and put our own personal twist on a dish.  It’s so exciting to see how unique everyone’s creations really are!  I would definitely make this dessert again, though probably in a smaller amount – I made way too much.  When something is this tasty I don’t really mind though – but risotto, poached pears and pistachio cream is not something one can easily bring into work and give to your coworkers – it’s not like trying to transport muffins haha.  So smaller batches are definitely better when it comes to risotto.  I’ll let you decide accordingly how much you think you should make – but this dessert would definitely impress if you have company over!

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.


Ingredients (for 4 servings):
For the poached pears –
2 bosc pears
1 lemon
3 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1/3 cinnamon stick
For the risotto –
.5 cup arborio rice
1 tbs. butter
2.5 cups milk
2 tbs. cocoa powder
40g 70% dark chocolate
For garnish –
pistachio cream
chopped pistachios
chopped chocolate

1.  Peel, core and halve pears and place them in water with lemon to keep them from browning.
2. In a medium pot, add water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped.  Use the actual vanilla beans for the risotto, but the leftover bean for the poaching.  Bring to a boil and dissolve the sugar, then bring back to just below a simmer.
3. Poach the pears until soft and able to pierce easily with a fork – about 15 minutes depending on the size, ripeness, etc.  Remove from poaching liquid.
4. Turn up the heat again on the poaching liquid and reduce it to about 1/2 volume.  This will make it really sweet.
5. In a large wide skillet, melt butter and add the arborio rice on a medium heat- saute for a few minutes until the rice is a little golden and translucent.  On a separate burner, heat up milk, just to steaming point.  Make sure to stir it every few minutes.
6. Add in about a half cup of the poaching syrup, and stir often  so that rice does not burn.  Gradually add milk as needed, stirring in a figure eight motion, until rice is plump and soft.  Stir in cocoa powder.  When rice is fully done, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, which will melt quickly.
7. To assemble, add chocolate risotto to a bowl, then top with poached pears, and garnish with pistachio cream, chopped pistachios and chocolate.  Enjoy!



Lauren March 14, 2010 at 12:33 am

When you started talking to me about this, I knew it would be a winner. SO gorgeous, creative and delicious =D.

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

Aww thanks! You are so sweet – and thanks for listening to me talk this out as I was planning it!

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 14, 2010 at 12:38 am

This looks wonderful. I had a chocolate/ beer risotto back in December and toyed with making that but never got around to it… Nice job!

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

Chocolate and beer? Ooooh I am intrigued…..

cuppy March 14, 2010 at 12:51 am

I’ve never made a poached pear before, but this recipe idea makes me want to try it! Chocolate + pears = <3

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

Poached fruit is not hard at all and you can infuse the fruit with any seasonings/spices that you want :) I love poaching fruit in the Winter!

the wicked noodle March 14, 2010 at 1:09 am

Oh my! This looks absolutely, deliciously stunning. I am absolutely going to make this as soon as I can get my hands on the ingredients!

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

Thanks! If you end up making it def. let me know how it comes out!

Audax Artifex March 14, 2010 at 6:17 am

It was a contrast not just in flavour but also texture, which made for a really great overall impression on the tongue. Pears, pistachios and chocolate I think this would be fantastic combination superb flavours and you are right the textures would be excellent also. Wondrous photography as always. Well done on this challenge and good to see you are expanding your cooking répertoire. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia <3<3<3.

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

Yes the flavor and texture profiles were great! Thanks for the lovely compliments – haha one has to be “daring” and try something new, right?

wic March 14, 2010 at 10:09 am

this looks and sounds absolutely delicious, oh how I would love to have some. the picture is just stunning.
great work with this months challenge.

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

Thanks! It was a lot of fun to make (and eat)!

Milagritos March 14, 2010 at 11:05 am

Oh-my-goodness! Thank you for your lovely comment but look at yours, I can taste your gorgeous risotto from my screen … what a beautiful idea!

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

What a wonderful compliment! Thanks!!

Veganpower March 14, 2010 at 11:18 am

OMG your risotto is so beautiful and the combination of flavors is so yummy yummy ?
The picture is very pro and Mmmmmmm je bave en voyant ta recette 😉

Great job Jenn 😉 and thank you for your feedback in my website

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Merci beaucoup! It was a great challenge this month!

Denise March 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Oh My, Girl! I love the flavor combinations and photo. That looks heavenly. Happy Spring!

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Thanks! Yes it even feels like a little bit of Springtime today (finally)!

Rochelle (Acquired Taste) March 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Poached pears and the liquid for stock sounds delicious! I wouldn’t have thought of that for a dessert risotto. What a great idea!

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Yes it worked really well! I could have made it sweeter by adding in more poaching liquid, but I figured it was ok haven’t one element of the dessert that wasn’t super sweet :)

Miareeva March 14, 2010 at 3:10 pm

This sounds & looks so yummy. I have one question – what is pistachio cream?

Jenn March 14, 2010 at 3:13 pm

This is pistachio cream – basically pistachios and powdered sugar folded into sour cream/whipped cream to sweet rich pistachio flavored bit of heaven that is hard to not eat right out of the bowl :)

ap269 March 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm

When I saw the picture of your risotto in the forum I took a note that I would have to look up the recipe once you post it because it looks incredibly yummy! What a creative approach to the challenge! Love it!

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:32 am

Thanks! If you try it please let me know how it came out!

pigpigscorner March 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm

This is gorgeous! A friend made this once for me and loved it! Yours with the addition of nuts made it even better!

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:33 am

oh cool! Yeah I love pistachios with just about everything, and I think they are a lot more versatile than most people originally would believe…

Charli March 14, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I love that you went with a dessert risotto. Chocolate, pistachio, and pear sounds like a winning combination to me!

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:33 am

Thanks! It seemed like a fun challenge to make into a dessert for sure!!

Asha@FSK March 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Woohoo!! Chocolate Risotto!! Love it! I LOVE the pears you have arranged on top. Such a gorgeous presentation!!

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:34 am

Oh thanks! It was actually really hard to keep the pears in place, they did not want to stay on the hot risotto very well!

Melanie March 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Wow, wow wow. That is absolutely gorgeous, what a unique inventive combination. Absolutely beautiful pic.

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:34 am

Thank you so much!

chef_d March 14, 2010 at 7:15 pm

what a gorgeous looking risotto and very interesting flavor combination!

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:38 am

Thanks! I think I will have to play more with these flavors and see what other desserts I can come up with too…

Heather @CeliacFamily March 14, 2010 at 9:19 pm

This sounds just as good as it looks. I love the creative variety. I’m looking for pears this week.

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:37 am

Yes pears should still be in season, I’ve been eating one every day for the past month or so :)

Valérie March 14, 2010 at 11:27 pm

This is so creative and so beautiful! And the flavours you chose are sensational! Amazing job!

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:38 am

Aww thank you! It was a lot of fun!

Katie @ Cozydelicious March 14, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Chocolate risotto! So amazing! And the pear poaching liquid for cooking the risotto is brilliant, I adore pears with chocolate. This looks SO tasty and unique, I’m going to have to give it a shot. Yum!

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:36 am

Thanks! If you make it, you can adjust the sweetness of the risotto by how much poaching liquid you use when cooking the risotto – I’ll be curious as to how it turns out!

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz March 14, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Wow what a recipe you made. Not many sweet attempts so good for you going that way. I bet it is just amazing.

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:39 am

Thanks! It’s fun to try something completely different and see what happens – I love experimenting in the kitchen

Talia March 15, 2010 at 12:04 am

Wow, what a great idea. I’m a total desert junkie. I’d never thought of sweet risotto: sophisticated like rice pudding for grown ups!

Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:36 am

haha it is just a fancy rice pudding it’s true!

Shirley @ gfe March 15, 2010 at 3:57 am

That is phenomenal, Jenn! Your photos never cease to amaze me, and I love how you did this awesome dessert risotto. :-)


Jenn March 15, 2010 at 7:36 am

Shirley you are so sweet, thank you so much for the compliments!

jo March 15, 2010 at 5:23 am

This sweet version of risotto looks really delicious. Great job.

Jenn March 16, 2010 at 7:46 am

Aww thanks!

Lisa March 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Jenn..that is heaven on a plate. I am in total awe of that lovely deep brown chocolate color and those beautiful poached pears and pistachio cream. Such a great idea and so perfectly executed. That’s a 5 star dessert that costs a ton in high end restaurants!

Jenn March 16, 2010 at 7:47 am

oh wow what a wonderful compliment! Thank you so much for your kind words!

Lindsay March 15, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Mmmmmm, sweet risotto! And what a sweet one this is — I love the idea of pistachio cream with the poached pears. Mmmm, thanks for the inspiration!

Jenn March 16, 2010 at 7:48 am

Thanks! It’s a flavor combination I think could be easily adapted to a number of other dishes as well!

Nicole, RD March 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

What a unique and wonderful flavor combination! Mmmm! Thanks for the recipe, and new blog to read :)

Jenn March 16, 2010 at 7:49 am

Wonderful! I hope you enjoy my future posts!

Robert March 16, 2010 at 4:46 am

I am still wrapping my head around a sweet risotto. The flavors for this one though seem so perfectly matched. Pistachios are my current favorite ingredient. They add so much and are incredibly versatile.

Jenn March 16, 2010 at 7:50 am

I also find myself using pistachios in just about everything lately, their unique flavor blends with so many other elements – as for being a sweet risotto, I see it as just a different version of rice pudding :)

Leah March 16, 2010 at 7:09 am

This was a great idea, and the picture is beautiful. I like the stock solution that you came up with.

Jenn March 16, 2010 at 7:51 am

Thank you Leah!

bake in paris March 16, 2010 at 9:53 am

Very exquisite dessert, beautiful presentation too!

Sawadee from Bangkok,

Jenn March 17, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Oh thank you! You are always so kind!

Erushi March 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm

My gosh. This sounds absolutely decadent, and to-die-for delicious. Your combination of flavours is so inspired, and I love how you plated the dish. Wonderful job!

Bob March 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm

That is such a great idea, I bet it would be good with all kinds of fruits.

Jenn March 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Yes, I think several fruits would work well, especially poached – but pears are quite possibly my favorite Winter fruit :)

Candice March 16, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Your risotto has me inspired to do a dessert version! Yum!

Jenn March 17, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Oh fun! Can’t wait to hear about what you make!

Kevin (Closet Cooking) March 26, 2010 at 11:45 am

I like the sound of a sweet chocolate risotto!

Jenn March 27, 2010 at 8:59 am

Hi Kevin – Thanks! The chocolate risotto actually was not that sweet despite having so much chocolate in it, because I used such a dark version of chocolate – I think if you made this with milk chocolate one would have a completely different sweet chocolate risotto – either way, the flavor combinations are endless as with most things involving chocolate, so there is a lot of room to put your own spin on the idea and play with your favorite flavors!

Ellen May 31, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Just stumbled upon you pistachio cream and then I see this. Chocolate risotto!? I love the way you think! Will definetly try this sometime soon!!

Jenn June 1, 2011 at 8:04 am

Hope you enjoy it!

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