2firm but ripe pears, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
¾cuppecans, coarsely chopped
1tablespoonlight brown sugar
1teaspoonginger, freshly grated
Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork and place on baking sheet. Bake potatoes for about 1 - 1 ¼ hours until they’re tender and easily pierced with a fork.
While the sweet potatoes bake, cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange to make a flat surface. Halve the oranges and scoop out the pulp. Squeeze enough of the pulp to get ¼ cup of orange juice. Reserve any remaining pulp for another use. Place orange cups on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
When cool enough to handle, cut sweet potatoes in half and scoop pulp into a large bowl. With an electric mixer or whisk, beat in butter, orange juice, sherry, cinnamon, nutmeg and egg until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the sweet potato mixture evenly among the orange cups, mounding in the center.
Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pears and sauté until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pecans, cranberries, brown sugar, and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in balsamic vinegar and salt. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
With the back of a spoon, put a slight dent into the top of the sweet potatoes. Spoon the topping over. Bake in a 375°F oven until heated through, 15-20 minutes. (Can be assembled 2 hours before baking; let sit at room temperature. Any remaining topping can be passed around separately. It’s also great on turkey, chicken and pork!)
*Oranges can be assembled 1 day ahead of baking. Cover and refrigerate.