Monday, November 22, 2010

Easy Peasy Dried Fruit Compote


I ran across this suggestion for dried fruit the other day from a list of favorite holiday desserts, credited to a Mark Bittman post. My photo may not do it justice but it was the last of what turned out to be quite a large recipe and it didn't take the two us all that long to polish it off. I was drawn to this winter dessert suggestion for it's simplicity and use of some ingredients I knew I had that would greatly benefit from this treatment. Stewed, poached and baked fruit desserts are not only a staple in this part of Italy, but they are quite beloved. It doesn't get any easier than this and although perhaps rather humble looking it is elevated to star status by our choice of fruits and the addition of the rose water. You could of course use any sort of flavoring if rose or orange flower aren't available to you or your palate prefers something else. Rum, amaretto, or brandy for an alcoholic twist and of course, the perennial favorite of vanilla or almond would work, but I loved the subtle flavor of the rose water. I used a Monin brand rose water concentrate, that worked beautifully. I also cut the batch in half using 500g of dried fruit, roughly a little more than a pound of what I had on hand. We had some dried plums that were almost too dry to contemplate anything other than fillings or sauces for meats, and so many thinly sliced apples that I was afraid they would over whelm the mix, but they worked great. Next time I would surely add some sultanas( plump white raisins) and some of my coveted stash of dried cranberries to add texture and punch. I wouldn't call it an economical dessert unless you have your own dried fruit, but it has inspired me to make sure that next year I am more vigilant about drying all those delectable fruits as they come into season and the bounty is almost overwhelming. It is that good.
1#(500g) dried fruit filled this 9"(22cm) container on the left
Dried Fruit Compote
easily serves 8-10

2 pounds mixed (1kg) dried fruit 
(pitted prunes/plums, apricots, peaches, pears, apples, cranberries, cherries, white raisins ....your choice)
2 tablespoon of rose or orange blossom water (optional)**
Put all the dried fruit in a bowl and cover with tepid water.* 
Let sit for at least 24 hours covered, in not too warm of a room temperature, then move to the refrigerator for 24 hours more.
Stir in optional rose or orange blossom water or other choice of flavoring .
Don't be tempted to add any sweetener, as I found it to be just right as it is with the fruit playing the starring role.


Serve with crème fraîche or thick slightly sweetened greek style yogurt. 
I use to love vanilla Brown Cow and Mountain High yogurt brands when I lived in the US and they were available to me. I usually make my own now.
A sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts, pecans or coconut could be a nice finishing touch as well. 

**The amount of flavoring really depends on your taste and how the fruit absorbs it. For my 1 pound or 500g of fruit mix, I used 1 tablespoon when covering it with the water and another when I was ready to serve as I found I wanted the rose flavor to stand out more. I think the apples maybe muffled the flavor of the rose water.
* I used hot water as my fruit was home dried and really almost rock hard and it held up without disintegrating, but you should use discretion with the temperature of the water if you find your fruit is delicate. I allowed the mixture to cool for several hours after adding the hot water and then put it in the refrigerator and it really only took 1 day to sit before it was ready.
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