Quarter the pears and remove the cores. Cut into slices or 1/2-inch cubes.
In a medium skillet, toast the cardamom pods over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cool until safe to handle, then peel and grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle.
In the skillet, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Sprinkle in ground cardamom and cook until sugar is melted.
Add chopped pears and cook for 2 minutes. Once the juices start to release, increase the heat to medium high and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes.
Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Cook for another minute. Then remove from heat and cool slightly.
Note 1: I like to use Bartlett pears. It's best if the pears are slightly firm and not super ripe and soft. Note 2: Cardamom loses its potency really quick, and that's why I recommend purchasing cardamom pods and toast/peel/grind them right before using. 10 cardamom pods = 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom.Storing Tip: Refrigerate leftover caramelized pears in an airtight container for up to 1 week.