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Spiced Pears with Oranges and Caramel Sauce

['4 7-to 8-ounce Anjou pears, peeled', '3/4 cup sugar', '1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water', '1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter', '1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon', '1/4 teaspoon ground ras-el-hanout*', '4 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick orange slices', '1/4 cup sliced almonds', 'toasted']

Using melon baller and starting from bottom, core each pear. Cut thin slice off bottom of each pear to make level.
Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat; whisk in butter, then 2 tablespoons water.
Stand pears in caramel sauce in saucepan. Sprinkle cinnamon over. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with ras-el-hanout. Cover and continue to cook until pears are tender, occasionally spooning caramel sauce over pears and shaking pan so pears don't stick, about 15 minutes. Arrange orange slices around pears; spoon caramel sauce over. Cover and simmer until orange slices soften, about 5 minutes.
Place orange slices on plates. Stand pears atop orange slices. Spoon caramel sauce over and sprinkle with almonds. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*A Moroccan spice blend available at some specialty foods stores and Middle Eastern markets, and by mail from The Spice House (312-274-0378;

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