I used to make this dessert all the time and for some reason took a long hiatus. When we had some friends over for dinner tonight, I felt the need to make dessert for a change and took a quick look across the food blogosphere for an update. I found a nice recipe by Béatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande over on Boston.com and adjusted to my own taste. Sorry for the lack of a picture, but I was quite happy with the results so thought I’d record it here — the use of cardamom in particular was wonderful.
4 to 6 pears (I used Bosc but have been happy with other kinds in past)
1 bottle of medium-bodied red wine
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
2 long orange peels
Prepare a bowl of cold water and squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Peel your pears, leaving the stem at the top and cutting off the bottom so that they can stand upright. Place each pair in the lemon-water so they do not discolor. Combine the wine, sugar, cardamom, cloves, vanilla extract, cinnamon stick and orange peel in a pot big enough to hold the pears and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the pears for 35 to 40 minutes, turning them gently every few minutes (be careful — a metal spoon will cut gashes in the soft pear surface). Remove the pears to a bowl and place in the fridge to cool.
Before serving, remove the cinnamon stick and orange peel from the wine liquid and bring to a boil. Cook down until it reaches the texture of syrup. Be careful not to go too far because it will thicken as it cools. Plate each pear standing upright and spoon the hot syrup on top.