Breakfast, Desserts, Salads and Side Dishes

Almond Spiced Pears with Fresh Berries

I wanted to add a sweet and fruity dish to my Christmas Brunch menu without making it too sweet and desserty. I found a recipe for poached peaches that inspired this dish, a poached pear dish that comes to life with almond liqueur, cinnamon sticks, and fresh berries. The almond extract and almond liqueur warm up the flavors in the pears and balance out the woody flavors of the cinnamon and nutmeg. A fruit side dish that kicks butt compared to a standard fruit salad. It’s a great dish in the fall and winter and can be served in a handful of ways. For this meal, I served them slightly chilled after making them the night before. You could also serve them warm as a side dish for dinner or warm with ice cream on top for a delicious dessert. Make sure to purchase ripe and tender pears for the best results.

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Makes: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes     Baking Time: 20 minutes      Chilling Time: Overnight

3-4 medium pears
1/2 – 2/3 cup sugar
water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
3 tbs almond liqueur (Disaronno or Amaretto are good options)
2 tsp almond extract
1 tbs vanilla extract
juice from 1 lemon
pinch of salt
1 pint fresh berries, raspberries and blackberries look nice
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

  • Put the pears in a medium or large sauce pan and fill the pot with water so that it is roughly 2 inches above the pears. Remove the pears and bring the water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the pears and let them boil for about 1 minute. Remove and set aside until they are cool enough to touch. Save the water.
  • When the pears are cool enough to touch, use a vegetable peeler to peel away the outer skin. Cut the pears in half and remove the seeds and stem with a melon baller or small spoon.
  • Add the sugar and cinnamon sticks to the reserved water and heat on medium heat. Cook the water until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Add the fresh nutmeg, almond liqueur, almond extract, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and salt to the sugar water.
  • Place the pears round side down in a serving dish. Pour the hot water over the pears and let them soak overnight. Add about 1/3 of the berries to the hot water, it gives the dish a nice pink tone. When the water has cooled to room temperature, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To serve the pears, remove from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. Top with the toasted almonds and remaining 2/3 of the fresh berries. You can also serve with a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
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