BAKED STUFFED PEARS

This is a hearty but elegant recipe I've been fond of for years, pried loose from a chef in San Francisco's North Beach; the flavors are pleasantly contrasted and satisfying.

6 large pears, peeled and cored (cut ¾-inch cavities)
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 fresh small almond (not coconut) macaroons, crumbled
2 oz. heavy cream
panettone, sliced 1/2-inch thick
a scant cup sweet white wine (such as late-harvest Riesling)
2 Tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Select six individual baking cups, sized to hold each pear upright. Cut panettone slices to fit the bottoms of the cups, butter the slices on one side and put them, buttered side down, into the cups. Set a pear in each cup, and stuff each one tightly with a coarsely crumbled macaroon. Top with some chopped chocolate, until pear is filled to the top; spoon a little cream over all of this.

Pour the wine around the pears and bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes. Then, spoon a little more heavy cream over each pear and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve hot in the baking dishes; a splash of cold heavy cream creates even more contrast.Yield: 6 servings

From "The Flavor of North Beach Revisited," by Mary Etta Moose and I, now available from Amazon's Kindle Store.

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