1. In a medium bowl beat the ricotta cheese, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Stir in chocolate pieces and the 1 teaspoon orange peel. Set aside.
2. Peel the pears; cut in half lengthwise and remove the cores. Remove a thin slice from the rounded sides so the pear halves will sit flat. Brush the pears all over with orange juice. Place the pears on dessert plates. Spoon the ricotta mixture on top of the pears and sprinkle with almonds. If desired, garnish with mint leaves and orange curls. Makes 6 servings.