1. Peel the pears, leaving stems attached. You may poach and serve them whole or slice them in half now which makes it easier to remove cores before serving.
2. Combine the wine, sugar, spices, thyme and salt in a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the peeled pears. If they’re not fully submerged, be sure to turn them frequently during the poaching process.
3. Poach pears for 20 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Allow the pears to cool completely in the poaching liquid. Refrigerate for at least a couple hours.
4. Set the poached pears aside. If desired, slice them before serving.
5. Strain the poaching liquid, discarding spices and herbs. Simmer the liquid over low heat until it’s reduced by about half. It should be thick and syrupy, but pourable.
6. Stir the vanilla into the softened mascarpone cheese. If desired, sweeten with a teaspoon or so of sugar.
7. Smear the mascarpone into the bottom of your serving bowls or platter. Sprinkle with crushed gingersnap cookies. Arrange the pears over the mascarpone and drizzle with extra red wine syrup. Serve immediately.
Recipe by The Kitchenista (Angela Davis)