1-1/2 cups whole hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 ripe medium pears, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
BROWNED BUTTER GLAZE:
1/2 cup butter, cubed
3 tablespoons 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 to 2 cups confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 10-in. fluted tube pan. Chop 1 cup hazelnuts. Place remaining hazelnuts in a food processor; pulse until finely ground.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts.
In another bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda and ground hazelnuts; add to creamed mixture alternately with ricotta cheese, beating after each addition just until combined. Fold in pears and chopped hazelnuts.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
For glaze, in a small heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Heat 5-7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in milk, vanilla and enough confectioners' sugar to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake.
Editor’s Note: To remove cakes easily, use solid shortening to grease plain and fluted tube pans. To toast whole hazelnuts, spread hazelnuts in a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake in a 350° oven 7-10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. To remove skins, wrap hazelnuts in a tea towel; rub with towel to loosen skins.