Here, poached pears meet the hot toddy as the fruit is poached in a comforting, honey-sweetened Earl Grey tea spiked with brandy. That liquid is reduced to a luscious syrup, for an elegant, complexly flavorful dessert.
MAKE AHEAD: The fruit with syrup needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days.
2 1/2 cups water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
1/3 cup honey
4 whole cloves
4 tablespoons brandy
4 medium firm-ripe pears
Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat, then remove from the heat, add the tea bags and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bags. Add the honey, cloves and 3 tablespoons of the brandy; return to a boil over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving them whole, with their stems intact if possible. Slice 1cm off the bottom of each pear so they will be able to stand upright.
Lay the pears on their sides in the poaching liquid in the saucepan; return to a gentle boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes (until just tender), turning the pears two or three times as they cook, until they have softened yet still retain their shape. Use tongs and a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a serving or storage dish, standing upright.
Discard or strain out the cloves in the poaching liquid. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup of a thin syrup.
Remove from the heat; stir the remaining tablespoon of brandy. Pour the brandied syrup over the fruit. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days.
Serve chilled, with the syrup.