BRANDIED PEARS WITH THYME & PECAN CRUMBLE
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup brandy
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Freshly ground black pepper (couple of turns)
- 1 lemon peel
- 1 orange peel
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 4 pears, preferably lightly ripe Doyenne du Comice (aka Royal Riviera) or Bosc
- 2 whole graham crackers smashed into crumbs
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 8 candied pecan halves coarsely chopped
- 1/8 tsp fresh thyme leaves
In large saucepan combine all ingredients except the pears. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, stir, then reduce to a simmer.
Prepare pecan crumble by melting butter in saucepan, then adding thyme leaves to butter. Cook until aromatic. Remove from heat. Add chopped pecans and graham cracker crumbs, mix well. Set aside.
Wash and dry the pears. Peel and core from the bottom, keeping stem on, and pear intact. Carefully place pears in the simmering liquid and cover. Turn up heat a bit and cook for 15 minutes. Pears should feel slightly soft but intact. If too firm, cook for 5–10 minutes more.
Remove pears from liquid carefully with a slotted spoon. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook remaining liquid uncovered until slightly thickened and able to coat the back of a spoon (about 6–8 min).
If you are not planning on serving pears right away, place the pears upright in a bowl and pour the brandy sauce on top. Cover and refrigerate overnight to increase the intensity of the flavor. You can serve pears chilled or reheat them with the brandy sauce in the saucepan. Garnish with graham cracker crumble. For an extra treat, serve with crème fraîche or ice cream.