As with most of my recipes, consider this a starting point and have fun making it your own. The important points to consider are allowing ½–1 pear per person and cooking until the fruit is just fork tender. The sugar and butter make a caramel-like sauce that is delicious spooned over the pear and something creamy, like a thick smear of ricotta or mascarpone (or a blend of both), a scoop of vanilla or fior di latte ice cream, a dollop of crème fraîche, whipped cream, or Greek yogurt. (A sip of Scotch would complement the flavors nicely too.)
This recipe serves 2, but you can easily scale up to serve more people (or to have leftovers—the pears are delicious chilled and make a nice addition to a cheese plate, strained from the syrup and thinly sliced). For a more formal presentation, leave the stem end of the pear attached, cut 3 or 4 slices close to but not through the stem, and fan out the slices.
2 firm Bosc or D’Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and each cut into 8 slices
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (India Tree dark muscovado)
1 tablespoon local honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Spritz of fresh lemon juice
1 star anise, 3 cloves, 5 black peppercorns (any or all)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Prepare the pears and lay them in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, drizzle with honey, and dot with butter. Spritz with lemon juice and add the spices. Cover with foil and bake for 20–30 minutes. Remove from oven and use a spoon to baste the caramel sauce over the pear slices.