How to Make It
Stir together 2 cups water, sugar, cardamom, wine, and star anise, if using, in a saucepan over high; bring to a boil. Add pears; reduce heat to medium. Cut a circle of parchment paper slightly larger than circumference of pan; press paper onto the surface of pears to keep them submerged. Simmer pears 20 minutes or until just tender. Remove from heat; cool completely. Chill pears in liquid in pan 8 hours.
Remove pears from liquid with a slotted spoon. Halve pears vertically. Gently remove seeds and core with a spoon. Chill until serving.
Place pan with poaching liquid over high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 25 minutes. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids.
Whisk together mascarpone, milk, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle each serving with 1 1/2 tablespoons poaching liquid syrup; top each with about 1 tablespoon vanilla mascarpone.