1.Combine vanilla bean, seeds, the water, sugar and rind in small saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is dissolved.
2.Add pears and simmer, covered, 20 minutes or until pears are almost tender. Remove pears from syrup. Boil syrup, uncovered, until reduced to 1 cup (250ml), then allow to cool. Trim bases of pears to sit flat.
3.Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Grease a 26cm springform pan and line base with baking paper. Insert base of springform pan upside down to make the cake easier to remove.
4.Beat butter and extra sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Add cream and beat until just combined. Stir in 2 tbs of the syrup. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Stir in sifted flours, nuts, chocolate and meal.
5.Spread mixture into pan and arrange pears around pan edge, gently pushing to the bottom of pan. Bake about 50 minutes. Remove ring from pan.
6.Serve cake warm or cool with remaining syrup.