How to Make It
1.In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, the 3 cinnamon sticks, the peppercorns and cloves and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Remove from the heat and let infuse for 5 minutes.
2.Add the pears to the spice syrup and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are just tender, about 15 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and let cool.
3.When the pears are cool enough to handle, remove them from the syrup and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Strain the syrup and add enough water to measure 6 cups. Pour the syrup back into the saucepan and bring back to a simmer.
4.In a large pot, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter over moderately low heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the simmering syrup, the rum and the salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the syrup has been completely absorbed. The rice and syrup should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding the syrup 1 cup at a time and allowing the rice to completely absorb the syrup before adding the next cup. Cook the rice in this way until it is tender, about 45 minutes in all. The syrup should thicken from the starch in the rice. You may not need to use all of the liquid, or you may need to use more depending on the rice. If you need more, just add simmering water. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter.
5.Stir the pears into the risotto and spoon into shallow bowls. Top each serving with a scoop of the ice cream and, if using, a mint sprig and a cinnamon stick.