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EatingWell Test Kitchen
“Pears baked in almond tea take on a flavor reminiscent of amaretto but at a fraction of the calories. The crunch of sugar-crusted almonds against tender fruit reveals an intriguing interplay of textures—a critical component of taste pleasure. ”
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1 large egg white
½ cup sliced almonds
1¼ cups water
4 almond-flavored herbal tea bags
5 teaspoons brown sugar, or Splenda Granular
1 tablespoon orange juice
4 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
2 firm Bosc pears
1To prepare almonds: Preheat oven to 300°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2Mix together sugar and orange zest in a small bowl. Whisk egg white in another bowl until frothy; add the almonds and toss to coat thoroughly. Drain the almonds in a sieve, then toss with the sugar-zest mixture. Spread the coated almonds on the prepared baking sheet.
3Bake the almonds for 10 minutes. Stir well, spread out again and bake for 5 minutes more. Stir again and bake until toasted and crisp, about 2 minutes more. Loosen the almonds from the baking sheet with a spatula; set aside.
4To prepare pears: While the almonds are baking, bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let steep for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tea bags over the pan, then discard the bags. Stir brown sugar (or Splenda), orange juice and 1 teaspoon lemon juice into the tea.
5Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees .
6Peel pears, halve lengthwise and cut out the cores. Toss with the remaining 3 teaspoons lemon juice. Place the pear halves, cut-side down, in 4 individual gratin dishes and put the dishes on a baking sheet. Spoon the tea mixture over and around the pears.
7Bake, uncovered, until the pears are tender, basting from time to time, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle the reserved almonds over the pears. Serve immediately.
Equipment: 4 individual gratin dishes or 1½-quart gratin dish, pie pan or quiche dish
Substituting with Splenda: In the EatingWell Test Kitchen, sucralose is the only alternative sweetener we test with when we feel the option is appropriate. For nonbaking recipes, we use Splenda Granular (boxed, not in a packet). For baking, we use Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking, a mix of sugar and sucralose. It can be substituted in recipes ( ½ cup of the blend for each 1 cup of sugar) to reduce sugar calories by half while maintaining some of the baking properties of sugar. If you make a similar blend with half sugar and half Splenda Granular, substitute this homemade mixture cup for cup.
When choosing any low- or no-calorie sweetener, be sure to check the label to make sure it is suitable for your intended use.