Chocolate Covered Pears... with toasted almonds.

Chocolate Covered Pears... with toasted almonds. A great Christmas gift idea.... for a healthier option. With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I'd share a  recipe for a healthier alternative when it comes to gift giving. Well, ok, you can also make this for yourself:). But the gift looks festive and can please most folks. It is gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free... and if you want, you can even make it nut-free by substituting the nuts with maybe some mini white chocolate chips or brittle.... even bits of dried cherries or other dried fruits. Oh, and it's also bake-free... well, if you don't consider toasting the almonds as baking per se, though you could buy toasted almonds and then it would really be bake -free:). It's also a make-ahead sort of gift.... so, it's great all around. Makes a rather nice gift, that looks pretty, and doesn't cost a ton... edible, too.   

While I was planning on posting this idea later on, I decided to introduce it now rather than later. This way, if any of you would care to try it, you'd have ample time to make it before Christmas. And I'm really posting this more of an idea, because you can easily add your own personal touches. I'm thinking you could easily substitute all sorts of nuts. Pistachios(being green) would be nice for the season.... and you could even bring in some white chocolate for contrast. In any case, it's a fun little project. Hope you enjoy...

Tip #1: Depending on how fresh your pears are, the dipped pears can be made quite a few days ahead. Just keep them refrigerated.  

Tip #2: If, and only if, you have too many dipped pears, you can opt to make the Gluten-Free Pear Buckwheat Cake... in mini version. Just slice pears and place on  top of cake batter... and sprinkle any pieces of chocolate that may have crumbled when cutting.  Funny thing is I really didn't have any "leftover" pears... it's just that my husband has been wanting me to re-make the cake for some time now. As much as gluten-free cakes aren't his favorite, this buckwheat cake is one of his absolute favorites:)!  Here's a photo of the mini cakes... another option for gift giving.
 You will need:
  • red and/or green pears, organic if possible
  • good dark chocolate(I used callebaut), melted
  • raw almonds, toasted and chopped
  • clear treat bags
  • ribbon  
  • and a parchment/plastic covered cookie sheet/plate
1. Wash and thoroughly dry pears. Set aside. Line a cookie sheet/plate with plastic/parchment... set it aside. 
2. Toast  raw almonds in oven/toaster oven for  a few minutes(5-10) at 350 deg F... keep an eye on them as they can burn easily. Time is approximate... check on them frequently. Allow almonds to cool and chop finely. Set aside.... you can place the chopped nuts in a bowl if you like.
3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler... I like to take chocolate off heat when there are still some bits of chocolate that haven't completely melted... the residual heat will eventually melt all the chocolate. Overheated chocolate will  be clumpy and not as shiny.  
4. Holding pear by stem, dip pear in melted chocolate... rocking it from side to side to form tulip petals all around. Lift up and allow excess chocolate to drip back... make sure you let most of the excess chocolate to drip off, otherwise the nuts will be too heavy with the chocolate and the chocolate and nuts can slide off.
5. Place chocolate dipped pear  gently into chopped nuts... making sure to sprinkle some of the nuts all around to cover almost to the top. I like to leave some chocolate showing. At this point, you can also drizzle some melted chocolate on top of the pear if you like.
6. Place dipped pear on parchment/plastic lined sheet/plate... and repeat with extra pears.
7. Place pears in refrigerator until chocolate hardens. Wrap in clear bags. Tie with ribbon.
8. Store in refrigerator.