Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dried Fruit Compote

Based on a Martha Stewart recipe. This is a crowd-pleasing dessert that goes well after a heavy meal such as at Thanksgiving, Easter or Passover. It's parve, vegan and gluten-free and has no nuts, no wheat and no chocolate. Quick and easy. Suitable for a pot-luck. Make it a day or two ahead or just before the meal.

3 c. apple cider (the result is very sweet so maybe substitute
      part water next time? I used Martinelli's cider
      but would use unfiltered fresh cider in season.)
6 dried pears halves (I cut each pear-half lengthwise into four
      strips, then crosswise into thirds)
12 dried apricots (they also are halves but Martha doesn't
      mention this; I cut them crisscross into quarters)
6 dried pitted prunes, optional (Martha doesn't mention prunes
      but I like the taste and the contrasting dark note to
      what is otherwise all orange-red. I cut them in sixths.)
3/4 c. dried cherries (about 5 oz.)
3/4 c. dried golden raisins (about 5 oz.)
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2" piece of raw ginger, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more or none: the spicy taste
      seemed to fade away with cooling, so maybe add it after
      cooking? Martha used a pinch of freshly ground white pepper
      which might survive the simmering better.)
* Fruit choices and amounts are pretty much Martha's. You could vary them based on taste, availability, price, etc. For example, pear halves and dried cherries may be harder to find and more expensive than other dried fruit.
-> Chop larger fruit into pieces a little larger than a raisin. Peel the ginger. Zest and juice the lemon. (My zester is hard to use so I just grate the peel on my vintage flat grater).
-> Put all ingredients in a saucepan (2-3 quarts), except maybe not the pepper.
-> Bring to a boil and then, per Martha, "[r]educe to simmer, and cook until fruit is soft and liquid is thick, about 20 minutes."
After 20 minutes my fruit was soft but the liquid was still thin. I gave it another 10 minutes and then tried raising the heat to a gentle boil. After an hour had elapsed - and the liquid was not much thicker than the cider I started with - I took it off the stove. Fortunately, the liquid thickens and is mostly absorbed as the compote cools. I therefore conclude that it would be fine to simmer or gently boil for 20-30 minutes and not to care whether the liquid gets syrupy. If there's still too much liquid after the compote cools, drain some of it and toss or reduce, and the next time use less cider.
-> Remove pot from stove and remove the cinnamon stick and piece of ginger (cook's bonus if you like ginger). Stir in pepper flakes now if you didn't add them before.
-> Martha says "Serve hot, cold or at room temperature." I cooled my compote in the pot with the lid cocked a bit to release steam, then refrigerated it in a covered serving bowl. I took it out before the meal and served it at room temperature for dessert with almond paste macaroons and Phil's Baba's Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe to be posted).
Makes great leftovers. Also could be used over ice cream.
Prep: 10 mins. Cooking: 25 mins (Martha), ~65 mins (me). Optional cooling time: ~30 mins.
rjm 20170412