Many recipes for this delicate dessert are made with aggressive spices that may overwhelm the delicate taste of the fruit. This approach calls for simmering the pears in an unspiced syrup that is reduced to concentrate the fruity flavor. It's worth it to seek out Poire Williams (a pear-flavored eau-de-vie) to finish the dish, but you can also use brandy.
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
6 firm Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and halved
1 (2-inch) lemon rind strip
3 tablespoons Poire Williams or other pear liqueur
6 (2-inch) lemon rind strips (optional)
How to Make It
Combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a simmer. Add 1 rind strip. Reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until tender. Remove pears from pan with a slotted spoon; cover and chill.
Bring cooking liquid to a boil over high heat; cook until syrupy and reduced to 1 cup (about 20 minutes). Strain through a sieve into a bowl; cover and chill. Stir in liqueur. Arrange 2 pear halves in each of 6 shallow bowls; top each serving with about 3 tablespoons sauce and 1 rind strip, if desired.