Yield a 9''/23cm diameter cake ring.
Peel and immerse pears in water with a splash of lemon juice. Halve each pear, core and cut into 3 wedges. In a hot large frying pan, drizzle oil and sugar and arrange pear wedges and top with more sugar. Throw in star anis and sear pear on each side and cook on low until fork tender (cooking time depends on pear and ripeness). Flambe with some brandy if desired. Set aside.
Peel, core and cut pears in 4. Cover and cook in the microwave for about 8 min or until done. Add gelatin and blend to puree; reserve in the refrigerator.
Bring milk, vanilla and one-third of the sugar to a simmer. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks, sugar and starch. Pour boiling milk in yolk mixture, whisk well and transfer mixture back in the saucepan. Bring to a boil whisking constantly on medium heat. Remove from stove and add gelatin and mascarpone; blend well and chill. Whip heavy cream to medium peaks; set aside. Beat chilled custard to smooth and fold in whipped cream. Save 8 oz/250g of diplomate cream for the pear filling.
Smooth out the chilled pear puree with an immersion blender and fold in 8 oz/250g diplomate cream. Set aside.
Biscuit Decor: Trim brioche and make large 1/2”/1.25cm thick slices. Scrape off excess sugar, save and chop candied fruits if using leftover Rosca de Reyes or panettone. Line a few sheets of plastic wrap over countertop. Slightly overlap brioche slices and make a 25’’x7''/64x18cm rectangle. Press down to seal and brush with melted butter generously and flatten again with a rolling pin. Fix up imperfections and repeat until evenly distributed. Trim off edges and cut into 4 strips that are 1/2”/1.25cm lower than the cake ring. In a hot and large frying pan, sear biscuit decor on one side for about 90 sec and transfer on cutting board to cool. Meanwhile, line cake pan with plastic wrap (moisturize pan prior). Carefully, arrange biscuit decor around the edges with no gaps left. Carpet bottom with bread/brioche slices and spread the first layer of diplomate cream. Arrange cool roasted pear wedges, candied fruits if so (orange/lemon). Add more cream and brioche slices. Fill up with pear filling to the top. Freeze charlotte for 3 hour to set. Unmold and keep refrigerated. Toast some sliced almonds and set aside. Slice each remaining pear wedge in 2 and arrange on cake. Pipe out leftover diplomate cream using a St Honoré pastry tip in between each pear and sprinkle some toasted almonds. Pear charlotte can be kept up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Enjoy!