For glazed pears, combine sugar, dessert wine, vanilla bean and seeds and 165ml water in a saucepan, stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add pears, cover with a round of baking paper, weight with a plate. Bring to the simmer, cook until pears are tender (15-20 minutes), set aside in syrup.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Melt chocolate, butter and brandy in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth, remove from heat, stir in egg yolks. Sift over flour and cocoa, fold through. Whisk eggwhites until soft peaks form, gradually add sugar, whisk until firm peaks form. Fold one-third of eggwhites into chocolate mixture, then fold in remaining eggwhites, glacé pears and almonds. Place 6 greased 5½cm-diameter, 6cm-tall metal ring moulds (see note) or 1-cup-capacity dariole moulds on a baking-paper-lined oven tray. Spoon mixture into moulds, bake until tops are just firm when pressed lightly with a fingertip (12-15 minutes). Cool for 5 minutes, turn out onto plates.
Meanwhile, transfer 250ml reserved pear liquid to a frying pan, add pears, cut-side down, cook over medium-high heat until caramelised (4-5 minutes). Add 125ml poaching liquid, swirl pan to incorporate, simmer for 2-3 minutes, add cream and cook until syrupy (5-6 minutes). Serve immediately with mud cakes and crème fraîche.
Note Ring moulds are available from specialty