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For almond crunch
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sliced almonds (preferably with skins; 2 3/4 oz)



For pears
3 firm Bosc pears (1 1/2 lb total)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup water


Special equipment: parchment paper; a melon-ball cutter (optional)


Accompaniment: mascarpone cheese (optional)


Make almond crunch:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350F.


Line a baking sheet with parchment.


Whisk together egg white, sugar, and salt until sugar is completely dissolved, then add almonds, stirring until coated. Spread mixture in a very thin layer on parchment-lined sheet, spreading almonds away from center of pan.


Bake until deep golden, 15 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack, then break into pieces.


Roast pears:
Increase oven temperature to 425F.


Halve pears lengthwise and core with melon-ball cutter or a paring knife.


Spread 1 tablespoon butter on bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.


Arrange pears, cut sides up, on sugar, then dot pears with remaining tablespoon butter. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar over pears, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon Amaretto.


Roast pears, uncovered, until barely tender, about 25 minutes (sugar will harden on bottom).


Add water, a pinch of salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons Amaretto to baking dish and stir (around pears) until sugar is dissolved, then baste pears with pan juices.


Roast pears, basting twice with pan juices, until tender, about 15 minutes more.


Serve pears, warm or at room temperature, drizzled with pan juices and topped with almond crunch.


Cooks' notes:
Pears, without almond crunch, can be roasted 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then chilled, covered (pears may discolor slightly). Reheat in a preheated 350F oven, basting once with pan juices, 10 minutes.
Almond crunch can be made 4 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.


Makes 6 servings.


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