I love making desserts using ricotta so when I first saw this recipe in the cookbook, Southern Italian Desserts, I knew I was going to make it!
Crushed amaretti cookies, almond paste, candied orange peel, some of the pear that is scooped from the centers, cinnamon and vanilla all mixed into creamy ricotta then stuffed into a pear and baked, what’s not to like?
I received this book for review written by Rosetta Costantino she’s also the author of the acclaimed, My Calabria. I was instantly drawn in by the cover photo which was a beautiful watermelon pudding tart, I’ve never seen anything like it. When summer returns to Chicago and watermelon is back in season I’m definitely going to make that!
All the mouthwatering desserts in the book are organized by region, you’ll find Sicilian Cannoli, Zeppole di San Giuseppe which are fried pastries, Sfogliatelle Ricce, a flaky pastry stuffed with ricotta, Zabaione al Limoncello, Biscotti and various other Italian cakes, pies, cookies and candies and gelato. No doubt I will be referring back to this book quite often.
For the stuffed pears I needed almond paste which I didn’t have, no worries she tells you how to make it in the book along with many other tips. It was actually quite simple to make, blanched almonds, sugar, water and a little almond extract whirled until it forms a paste in the food processor.
The key is to find firm but ripe fat bottomed pears so you’ll have plenty of room to stuff them with the ricotta mixture.
As the pears are baking the ricotta mixture puffs up inside and over the top. The recipe gives you the option to then eat it as is, or to drizzle the pears with a chocolate sauce.
Obviously I went with the chocolate! One word…. DECADENT!
Would you like to win a copy of this book? One lucky reader of mine from the U.S. who makes a comment here on this very blog post will be sent a copy directly from the publishers. The winner will be chosen randomly on Sunday 10/13/13 and announced next week. Anonymous comments will not be accepted.
- 6 firm-ripe pears
- ½ cup fresh ricotta, well drained
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup crushed amaretti cookies
- 5 tablespoons of almond paste, homemade or store-bought
- 2 tablespoons packed finely chopped candied orange peel
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup of vermouth or sweet white wine
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup water
- CHOCOLATE SAUCE
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ALMOND PASTE
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon of pure almond extract
- 2 tablespoons water, plus 1 teaspoon if needed.
- Heat oven to 400F, rack in center oven. Have a 8-inch square pan ready.
- Cut off the tops of each pear and set aside. Use a melon baller or a small spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving a ¼ inch all around careful not to poke through bottom. Discard seeds, chop flesh and set aside.
- Place ricotta into a bowl. Stir in egg, amaretti, almond paste, orange peel,cinnamon and vanilla. Add chopped pears and stir to combine everything.
- Place pears into baking pan, fill the cavities with the ricotta filling. Replace the tops on the pears.
- Stir together the wine, sugar and water then pour mixture into the pan. Bake until soft and beginning to collapse, mine took a little over an hour. Filling will puff out and brown. spoon some of the sauce over the pears.
- Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate until cold or overnight.
- Serve the chilled pears in shallow bowls, drizzled with chocolate sauce if you so desire.
- CHOCOLATE SAUCE is made my heating the cream until the sides start to bubble, turn off the heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth and shinny.
- ALMOND PASTE is made by placing the almonds and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until it looks like fine cornmeal then add extract, water and remaining sugar until a paste forms. This can be frozen but thaw 1 hour before using.
- Notes: If you don't have candied orange peel I would use grated fresh orange peel from 1 orange. I used half and half instead of heavy cream for the chocolate sauce and that worked fine. This recipe has been slightly adapted.