An anjou pear poached in red wine lazes on a pillow of puff pastry in a bed of nutty frangipane in this elegant dessert.
Place pears in a medium saucepan. Add wine, 1/2 cup sugar, cloves, orange juice and zest, and just enough water to cover pears. Scrape in the vanilla seeds, and add the pods. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring gently. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until a paring knife easily pierces the pears, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer poached pears and poaching liquid to a medium heat-proof bowl; set aside to cool.
Place almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until finely ground, about 2 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, flour, and ground-almond mixture; mix until combined. Transfer frangipane to a pastry bag fitted with a coupler. Secure top with a rubber band; chill.
Lightly flour a clean work surface, and line two baking sheets with parchment. Roll out one piece of puff pastry to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle. Using a paring knife, cut pastry into six equal rectangles. Cut out six pear shapes from each rectangle. From the pastry trimmings, cut out twelve 1 1/2-inch leaves, and press two onto the top of each pear shape. Place assembled shapes on baking pan, and refrigerate until firm. Repeat process with remaining piece of puff pastry.
Using a slotted spoon, remove pears from liquid. Cut pears in half, and, using a melon baller, core; set pears aside. Pour liquid through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
Return liquid to saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until liquid has been reduced to a syrup that coats the back of a wooden spoon, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer syrup to a small bowl, and set aside.
In a chilled bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form; cover with plastic; chill.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Using a fork, prick center of each pastry. Pipe a triangle of frangipane, about 2 tablespoons total, around each pastry, leaving a 1-inch border. Place a pear half in center of each "pillow."
Bake pear pillows until pastry just starts to take on color, 8 to 10 minutes. Combine the corn syrup with 1 teaspoon warm water in a small bowl. Remove pear pillows from oven, and brush pastry edges with corn-syrup wash. Return pillows to oven, and cook until golden brown all over, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Divide desserts among plates, and brush each with reserved wine syrup. Serve each with a dollop of whipped cream.