PEARS are in plentiful supply at the moment and a lovely seasonal ingredient to cook with as well as eat raw. Like many other fruits, pears combine well with rich, fatty meat such as duck and pork as well as strong, sharp flavours such as blue cheese, watercress or chicory. Nuts are also a great companion to pears; their crunchy and creamy texture combines well with the soft, sweet tang of the fruit. And of course there are lots of wonderful desserts that can be created from this autumnal fruit.

There are several types of pear grown in Britain although we still import a lot from Europe and further afield. The popular Conference pear accounts for over 90 per cent of commercial production in the UK, however, imported pears account for around 80 per cent of consumption. In fact there are thousands of varieties of pear grown around the world but only a very small fraction of these make it to Britain.

One of my favourite varieties is the Portuguese Rocha pear, which is incredibly sweet and juicy and requires little cooking - making it a perfect for this week’s lovely dessert.

Unlike most fruit, pears improve in flavour and texture after they’ve been picked (but don’t leave them in the fruit bowl long enough to spoil). For this dish, they still need to be fairly firm so that they maintain their shape and texture when cooked.

Today’s recipe is an Italian-inspired dish that combines fragrant pears with a rich, sticky Amaretto syrup and crunchy almond flavoured crumble topping.

This is a really luxurious and sophisticated pudding that will transform a northern dinner table into an Italian piazza! This dish works equally well with ripe peaches or nectarines during the summer months.

Serve with some Italian mascarpone or your favourite vanilla ice cream. Buon appetito!


(serves 2)

75ml white wine

2 tbsp. apricot jam

2 ripe pears, cut in half

50g of butter

2 tbsp granulated sugar

50ml Amaretto liqueur

100g Amaretti biscuits

100g fresh berries

Mascarpone or vanilla ice cream to serve

Gently heat the wine and apricot jam in an oven-proof pan. Sit the pears skin-side down in the liquid and place a knob of butter and ½tbsp. of sugar on the top of each pear half.

Place the pears under the grill for about five minutes or until the butter and sugar have melted and the liquid starts to bubble. Remove from the grill and pour the Amaretto liqueur over the fruit and crumble the biscuits on top. Place back under the grill for a few minutes to lightly toast the biscuits.

Remove the pears from the liquid, which should now have become a syrup, and divide between two plates. Stir the berries into the syrup and spoon over the top of the pears. Serve with a scoop of Mascarpone or good quality vanilla ice cream.