For 4 people:
- ¾-cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 pears (your choice)
- To serve: crème fraîche, chocolate sauce
- In a large skillet or saucepan, bring 2 cups water and sugar to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Boil 2 minutes then add vanilla extract.
- Keep syrup at the boiling point.
- One at a time, peel and core pears from the bottom.
- Leave the stems intact. If necessary, trim bottoms of pears so they will stand up.
- Using tongs, dip each pear in boiling syrup to coat and prevent darkening.
- Turn pear on its side in syrup.
- After all the pears have been added, test the first one for doneness by piercing it with the tip of a knife. If tender, remove with tongs, holding over the skillet to drain.
- Place pears upright in a (not very flat) serving dish.
- Raise the heat under the skillet to high and cook the syrup about 15 minutes. It should be reduced by half.
- Pour syrup around pears in the serving dish, cover loosely with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
- Swirl chocolate syrup on each plate.
- Mound a large spoonful or two of crème fraîche in the middle.
- Set the pear in the middle of the crème fraîche and serve.