Preheat your oven to 350°F. Set out a pan that is large enough to hold your cheesecake pan for baking. Boil water for a bain-marie which will be used to bake in.
In a medium saucepan, dissolve the first quantity of sugar in the water. Bring the water to a boil. Add the brandy (or wine) and the spices; stir and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, making sure the water is barely moving. Add the sliced pears and poach for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the pears to steep while you prepare the cheesecake. Stir the pears once or twice while they steep.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Stir to form a mixture that holds together when grabbed. Pack the mixture into the bottom of a cheesecake pan and level out. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until toasted. Remove and set aside to cool.
While your crust is baking, begin creaming your cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Once it is smooth, add the sugar, followed by the eggs (one at time). Make sure to scrape down the bowl after the addition of each item, and mix the batter completely after each as well.
Mix in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. After scraping down your bowl, add the cornstarch and beat until combined.
Wrap the bottom of your cheesecake pan in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. Pour the batter into the pan and top, decoratively, with the pears.
Carefully, pour the hot water into your larger pan, then set the cheesecake pan into the larger pan. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn the oven off and prop open the oven door. Allow the pan cheesecake to cool for an additional hour. Finally, remove from the oven and the bain-marie and cool for an additional 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 8-24 hours before un-panning and topping with Toffee Sauce. Enjoy!