4 concorde or conference pears
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of ½ lemon
Juice of one lemon
120g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tbsp Amaretto or other almond-flavoured liqueur
For the almond brittle
75g toasted flaked almonds
150g caster sugar
Groundnut oil, for greasing
Slice off the base of each pear to flatten them, peel them neatly and core using an apple corer, without removing the stalks.
In a deep saucepan, add the lemon juice, zest, cinnamon stick, water and sugar. Gently dissolve the sugar over a low heat.
Add the pears, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes. If the pears are not immersed, turn them regularly and keep basting.
After 40 minutes add the vanilla paste, and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Remove the pears from the pan, and strain the syrup through a sieve.
Reduce the syrup by boiling hard until it is shiny and syrupy. Add the Amaretto and cook for 5 minutes, then strain over the cooled pears.
To make the brittle, line a tray with parchment paper lightly oiled with groundnut oil.
Melt the sugar in a pan over medium heat. Do not stir but you can swirl the pan to stop the edges burning. If sugar crystals form on the side of the pan, brush with water to remove them.
After 10-20 minutes the sugar should melt and caramelise. If the sugar in the pan’s centre doesn’t melt, stir briefly when the rest is melted and caramel in colour. Do not let it get too dark as it will be bitter.
When it is all terracotta coloured, remove from the heat, add the nuts and stir well to coat with caramel. Return to the heat, and when the mixture starts to bubble, remove again and pour onto the greaseproof paper.
Spread as evenly as possible. It will harden as it cools. Serve with ice cream.