Honeyed Fruit Compote
There is so much to be done with the bounty of late summer fruit, so many delicious possibilities for the fall Jewish holidays! This jewel-colored compote is even better after a day or two in the fridge, making it perfect for holiday entertaining. Serve it alone or with a dollop of yogurt or mascarpone topping, alongside honey cake or sponge cake or over good vanilla ice cream. Be sure to use unbruised, firm fruit that is not quite fully ripe, and don’t overcook. Other than that, this is one of those recipes that begs for you to try different combinations of ingredients. I love adding fresh apricots when they are in season and dried cherries anytime for the look, taste and texture. But if you’re missing any of the ingredients, don’t let that stop you from making this sweet and slightly savory dish. In winter, apples and pears can play dominant roles along with the cherries, dried apricots and, for me always, the figs. The blend of different spices builds a delicately complex flavor, but if you’re a cinnamon fan, add that as well. Whatever the combination of fruit and spices, lemon brings brightness to a dessert that is sure to please all palates.
- 4 large firm peaches
- 4 large firm black plums or 6-7 small Italian plums
- 1 apple such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp
- 8 fresh or dried figs
- 3 whole cardamom pods
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 bottle (750 ml) sweet white wine such as Moscato
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup sugar
- 12-15 whole cloves
- 8-10 whole peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into 2 pieces (optional)
- ¼ cup dried, pitted cherries and/or 8 dried apricots (optional)
- Mascarpone Topping
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon honey or to taste
- 1 cup mascarpone
- Milk as needed
- Gently peel the fuzzy skin off the peaches and cut them into about 10 even wedges. Cut out any of flesh that was next to the pit if it’s stringy, removing as little as possible. Cut the plums into 6 to 10 even wedges, depending on the size of plums used. Cut the unpeeled apple in quarters, core and cut each quarter into wedges that are thinner than the peach or plum wedges, about 5 or 6 per quarter. Cut the fresh or dried figs into quarters. Lightly crush the cardamom pods with the flat of a knife to release the flavor. Zest the lemon and set aside.
- Empty the wine into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the juice from the zested lemon, honey and sugar and stir a few moments to blend well, then mix the fruit into the liquid. Reduce the heat to medium and cook at a strong simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until the fruit is just tender, but not too soft.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the fruit, picking out as much of the spices as you can. Put fruit into a glass bowl or container and return spices to the liquid. Turn up the heat to rapidly boil the liquid 20 to 30 minutes until it reduces by half. Use a spoon to remove the spices from the liquid and discard them. Let the sauce cool about 10 to 15 minutes, then pour it over the fruit. After the compote has cooled, cover and refrigerate until cold. To serve, sprinkle fruit with lemon zest or top with a dollop of yogurt or mascarpone (recipe below) with a sprinkling of zest. The compote is also good over vanilla ice cream or alongside honey cake or sponge cake. Keeps in the refrigerator for several days.
- For the mascarpone topping, mix the vanilla and honey into the mascarpone, whipping it a bit with a fork as you do so that it becomes fluffier. Dollop some onto each serving of compote. You can also thin with milk if you prefer more of a sauce consistency to drizzle.