Firm pears will take longer than ripe pears to cook. To test for doneness, slide a skewer or small knife into the centers. The pears are done when the skewer slides effortlessly through the thickest part of the pears. Use extra cooking liquid in cocktails and fizzy drinks, or drizzle over yogurt.
4 cups refrigerated pomegranate juice
3 cups sugar
2 cups no-sugar-added cranberry juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 (1- x 1/2-inch) lemon peel strips
2 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
8 small firm pears, peeled
1/2 (8-oz.) container crème fraîche or sour cream
How to Make It
Bring first 7 ingredients and 3 cups water to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring constantly, 4 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
Add pears. Top pears with a plate; place a small saucepan on plate to keep pears submerged. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove plate and saucepan, and turn pears over. Replace plate and saucepan, and simmer 20 more minutes or until a knife slips easily into pear flesh.
Remove Dutch oven from heat. Transfer 2 cups cooking liquid to a small, clean saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture thickens and becomes syrupy. Remove pan from heat. Transfer syrup to a heat-proof bowl, and cool completely. Cover syrup, and keep at room temperature until ready to use. (You may need to warm syrup 1 to 2 minutes to thin slightly before serving.)
Let pears stand in remaining cooking liquid in Dutch oven, uncovered, at room temperature until completely cool. Cover and chill 8 to 12 hours.
Uncover Dutch oven, and bring cooking liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil gently 5 minutes or until pears are heated. Carefully remove pears, using a slotted spoon; discard solids in Dutch oven. Reserve cooking liquid for another use, if desired, or discard. Serve warm pears with crème fraîche, and drizzle with reserved syrup.