Years ago… before I truly had any idea of how to cull any culinary together… I threw some bananas in a pan with a splash of Amaretto liqueur and tossed the lot over a few scoops of vanilla bean ice cream to serve to what might have been our first real dinner guests, and honestly, you would have thought I had invented the entire concept of dessert given the accolades this simple “fruit plus liqueur” path garnered.
Bananas just happened to be in our fruit bowl that eve… and at the ripe old age of 25, probably the only fruit in the bowl. But it was that simple little twist on flavor that that liqueur provided that made for such an elegant little punch; one far more impacting than the potion poured.
Amaretto liqueur has a distinctive “bittersweet” almond flavor, though it does not contain almonds or nuts. The brand I used in this recipe (Disaronno) claims to use apricot kernel oil in its recipe so, perhaps, that accounts for the “almond” flavor. At any rate, it is a flavor that is particularly lovely with pears. Had pears been in my fruit bowl those many years ago I’m sure they would have been my selection.
Here I’ve used Stemilt’s Bosc Pears, sautéed slowly over a low flame with unsalted butter, golden brown sugar, and just a quarter cup of Amaretto. The pears warm to a golden hue, rich in flavor yet not compromised in texture. Cooled for just minutes, they are served warm over vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with a bit of the Amaretto pan sauce, a thin ribbon of sea salt caramel, and a sprinkle of toasted pecans. The “just warm” nature of these delicious pears will begin to melt that lovely ice cream, making it more of a luscious cream anglaise. The Amaretto-brown sugar pan sauce mimics the taste notes of the sea salt caramel, making for a satisfying balance of flavor. And Stemilt’s Bosc Pears exude lovely notes of fall spice that play beautifully with the caramel, sugar and almond notes of this dessert.
This little dessert has an elegant taste…. plain and simple (literally)… yet comes together so effortlessly that it begs to be served for company. Pears are naturally elegant in and of themselves… elongated necks, graceful curves, juicy flesh… it’s hard not to transform them into equally elegant desserts… even if you take the simple track as I’ve done here.