About this recipe:This is a great dessert for entertaining as it looks dramatic but can be prepared ahead of time, even the day before. Be aware that some pears take a long time to become tender – test with a toothpick, which should slide in easily.
Gently heat all the ingredients, except the pears, in a large stainless-steel or enamel saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil for 2 minutes.
Peel the pears carefully, without removing their stalks, and add them to the saucepan. Cover and cook on low heat for 30–40 minutes, or until tender, turning frequently to ensure that they cook and colour evenly to a deep pink. Using a slotted spoon, lift the pears from the saucepan and put them on a serving dish. Strain the juice through a nylon sieve and discard the spices. Return the juice to the pan and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat and boil on low heat until the juice has reduced by half and is heavy and syrupy.
Pour the syrup over the pears and allow to cool. Serve with whipped cream ﬂavoured with kirsch, if desired.