Bring 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1/2 split vanilla bean, 1 star anise pod and a pinch each of salt and pepper to a simmer; cook until reduced by half, 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 chopped peeled pears and 3 tablespoons water; simmer 8 more minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon chopped thyme, increase the heat and simmer until syrupy, 1 to 4 minutes. Let cool.
Photograph by Christina Holmes