The poaching liquid reduces down into an amazing glaze to be drizzled over the pears along with the chocolate sauce. I like using Laphroaig (a super-peaty Islay Single Malt Whisky) in the poaching liquid to impart a unique and unexpected flavor to this dessert, but a sweeter American Whiskey or Bourbon works equally well (Bourbon of course being a traditional pairing with maple syrup).
This is a great dessert for a dinner party since the pears can be prepared well an advance and the chocolate sauce takes literally seconds to prepare. A scoop of vanilla ice-cream or some whipped cream certainly isn't necessary, but of course wouldn't hurt. —AShaps
In an oven-proof saucepan large enough to hold all the pears, cut-side down, combine the maple syrup and 3 tbsp butters over medium heat, whisking to combine. Once the butter is melted add the whisky and simmer until the alcohol is mostly cooked out (3-5 minutes). Add vanilla extract. Add pears to the pan cut-side down and saute 5 minutes (reduce heat if liquid is boiling to rapidly and reducing).
Transfer pears to oven for 10-15 minutes depending on size of pears. Remove once cook through and softened, but still firm.
Remove pears from pan and set aside. Return pan to stove, and over medium low heat whisk in the remaining 1 tbsp butter to thicken the poaching liquid--it should take on a soft caramel-like consistency. Serve pears drizzled with the poaching liquid and chocolate sauce.
Chop the chocolate finely. Combine in microwave safe container with the cream and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove and whisk to combine. Add more cream if necessary for a pourable consistency.