Used in a variety of Italian confections, toasted hazelnuts add crunch and a pleasant contrast to the creamy mascarpone sauce and warm, soft pears. If your pears are very ripe, you will not need to cook them quite as long. Watch them closely so they don' overcook. They should be tender but still crisp in the center.
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
4 large ripe pears (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4 cup Frangelico (hazelnut-flavored liqueur)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
5 teaspoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted
How to Make It
Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth.
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears, and sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Add Frangelico and brown sugar, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Divide warm pear mixture evenly among 5 dessert plates; drizzle with mascarpone cream, and sprinkle with hazelnuts.
A Toast to Nuts: One of the best ways to bring out the flavor in nuts is to toast them. Heating helps release flavor compounds that make for a richer, more intensely nutty taste. To toast hazelnuts, place them in a shallow pan or on a baking sheet, and bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant, stirring once. (Or quickly toast them in a skillet over medium-high heat.) Turn nuts out onto a towel. Roll up the towel, and rub the hazelnuts to remove the skins.