Poached pears can be served as-is or alongside a slice of spiced pound cake or even ice cream. It’s preferable to use a variety of pear that is quite firm so that the fruits retain their form once cooked.
Peel the pears, cut in two lengthwise, then remove the hearts with a melon scoop. If needed, soak the pears in a large bowl of cold water once peeled to avoid them changing colour.
Place the pears, water, sugar and lemon juice in a large pan and bring to a boil, on high heat.
Slice the vanilla bean in two, lengthwise.
Lower the heat to medium/low and add the vanilla and mahleb. Infuse for ten minutes.
Add pears and poach, uncovered for about 15-20 minutes, until the point of a knife easily punctures the fruits.
Transfer the pears with their syrup into a large, hermetically sealed jar, then refrigerate thoroughly before serving. The longer the pears macerate in the aromatic syrup, the better they will absorb the flavour of the spices.
For a thicker syrup, strain out the aromatic spices and pour the filtered syrup into a pan and allow it to reduce by half on medium heat. Pour on to the pears when ready to serve.