Makes 4 servings. Difficulty
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting ramekins 1 Tablespoon brandy 2 wide strips of lemon zest 1 cinnamon stick 1/2 vanilla bean, split 1 star-anise pod 1 whole clove 1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and halved lengthwise 3/4 pound gf cream cheese, softened 1/4 cup gf marscapone cheese, softened 3/4 teaspoons gf vanilla extract 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
In a medium saucepan, combine half of the sugar with brandy, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, star anise, cloves and 3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add pears. Lower heat and set something like a plate on pears to keep them submerged in liquid; simmer until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Remove pears and let cool.
Bring mixture in saucepan back to a boil and reduce until it reaches consistency of syrup. Strain and let cool.
Lightly butter 4 ramekins and dust with sugar.
Trim prepared pears so that they are about 2" long and 1/4" thick. Fan slices, overlapping slightly in bottom of prepared ramekins. Add 1 teaspoon of poaching syrup to each ramekin.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in remaining sugar until smooth. Add marscapone cheese and continue to beat until smooth. Add vanilla extract and eggs (one at a time) and continue to beat until smooth and blended thoroughly.
Spoon batter into prepared ramekins and set them in a roasting pan. Fill pan with enough hot water to reach two-thirds of the way up sides of ramekins. Bake for about 35 minutes or until just set.
Transfer to a cooling rack and when cool place in refrigerator overnight.
Run a knife around cheesecakes and invert onto a dessert plate. Spoon a little of the poaching syrup around each cheesecake and serve.