Roasted Pears with Sweet Ricotta Cream

Last week, on the heels of my Fresh Direct over-order, I was itching for something sweet. Typically, fruit just doesn't cut it in my list of desirable desserts. Occasionally I'll dabble in some berry ridden whipped cream and that's how I got the idea for some brown sugar basted pears. Yup, you read that right. Sweet pears roasted and basted with a brown sugar sauce. And while whipped cream from a can is always a staple in my fridge (though my love for it has dwindled since I discovered homemade mint whipped cream), I wanted some sort of thick cream for these sweet delights but also something that was not completely terrible for me. So I turned to ricotta, a versatile and delicious Italian cheese that's used in everything from lasagna and mixed into spaghetti to sweetened and dolloped over fruit. Though this dish isn't exactly the pinnacle of health, it's lighter than my favorite cupcakes and fulfills any sweet tooth...oh and gives a healthy dose of fruit to boot.

Roasted Pears
*Adapted heavily from Bon Appetit, circa 2007
2 Anjou pears
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel pears, cut them in half lengthwise and remove the cores. In a mixing bowl, coat the pear halves with lemon juice and vanilla. In an ovenproof skillet (stainless steel, no rubber handles), heat the butter until melted. Add brown sugar and mix into the butter. Place the pears cut side down into the skillet, pouring remaining lemon juice mixture over the top. Cook in the skillet until the sugar dissolves and the mixture bubbles, spreading some of the mixture over the top of the pears. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the pears and soft, about 15 minutes. Top with sweet ricotta cream.

Sweet Ricotta Cream
1 C part-skim ricotta
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a food processor or blender, combine the ricotta, honey and vanilla. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the cream can thicken. Serve over roasted pears.

So there you have it...a semi-healthy dessert that's quick and easy without sacrificing an ounce of sweet flavor. But what I want to know is, what is your thought on fruit as dessert? Do you have favorite way to sweeten the deal?