A luxurious yet easy dessert. The key to this recipe is the quality and freshness of the ingredients.
1. Bring the water and brown sugar to the boil and stir to dissolve all the sugar, then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and add the orange zest and all the spices, including the scraped-out vanilla pod.
2. While this is simmering, uncovered, peel and core the pears. You can use a melon baller to scoop out the cores.
3. Add the pears to the syrup and let them simmer very gently for up to 25 minutes. Make sure they don’t overcook or they will be too soft to serve. When the tip of a knife slides into a pear easily with no resistance, the pears are ready.
4. Depending on the size of your pan or pot, your pears may be poking out of the water. To prevent the pears from discolouring, cut out a disc of parchment paper that’s the size of your pot and cut a hole approximately 2cm in diameter in the centre. Place this disc over the pears so that it comes in contact with them. It will keep the pears from changing colour.
5. When the pears are done, remove them from the syrup. Raise the heat and continue reducing the syrup until it’s thick and pale golden. Sieve out the spices and pour the syrup over the pears. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.