Pears are the quintessential Italian dessert, usually served with cheese. Baked pears in wine are also popular, and in this recipe, I have treated them a little more upscale with a filling of apricots and marmalade that complements the flavor of the pears. Cooking them in the microwave is fast and the result is a dessert that takes minimal effort to prepare but looks like lots of time was spent in the kitchen.
8 dried apricots, diced (California apricots, not Turkish)
2 teaspoons orange marmalade
2 Anjou or Bartlett Pears, cut in half lengthwise and core removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup white dessert wine, such as Moscato
4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Mint leaves for garnish
Place the apricots in a small saucepan and pour in just enough water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 1 minute. Drain the apricots and transfer them to a small bowl. Stir in the marmalade.
Place the pear halves on each of four individual microwave-safe bowls. Fill the cavities of each pear half with some of the apricot mixture. Dot the tops of each with a piece of butter.
Carefully pour 1/4 cup of the wine along the sides of each bowl. Cover each bowl with a sheet of wax paper.
Microwave the pears on high power for 5 to 6 minutes or just until the pears are soft but not mushy. Allow the pears to cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl beat the ricotta cheese with the sugar. Place a tablespoon of cheese on top of each pear half. Divide and sprinkle the nuts on top. Add a mint leaf for garnish and serve.
Note: If using a conventional oven, preheat the oven to 350, use oven-safe serving dishes or a pan large enough to hold all four halves. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, just until easily pierced with a fork. Arrange on serving dishes as above.
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