Put the sugar and vanilla pod in a medium pan with 500ml cold water over a low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Add the pears and poach over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, then drain, reserving the poaching liquid.
Press a star anise into the cavity of each pear, then place them in a sterilised jar, along with the orange strips and vanilla pod.
Pour over the brandy and top up with the reserved poaching liquid. Seal the jar with a lid, and decorate with muslin cloth and ribbon.
Cook’s tip: This fantastic dessert will keep for one week in the fridge.