This is a dessert to brighten a winter evening. Consider the deep plum reds punctuated with dark prunes and the more delicate tones of white peaches and nectarines-gorgeous. The farmers’ market is where you’ll find such unusual dried fruit. If there are leftovers, dice them into small pieces and add them to grain-based desserts, such as a semolina pudding or a rice pudding.
How long it takes for your fruit to swell and soften has to do with how dry they are. The current season’s dried fruit cook more quickly than fruit you’ve had sitting around for a year or more, but eventually they, too, will revive with a little additional liquid.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
¾ cup honey or 1 cup organic sugar
½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2 cups dried fruit, such as pears, nectarines, peaches, and apricots
1. Combine 3 cups water with the honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the syrup, and add the pod.
2. Add the fruit, reduce the heat to low, and cook until soft, about 20 minutes, or longer if necessary. When the fruit is tender, remove it with a spoon to a bowl, leaving any pieces that need more cooking to simmer until done.
3. Once all the fruit is cooked, simmer the remaining juices until syrupy and covered with bubbles, after about 5 minutes, then pour them over the fruit.
An Improvised Compote of Dried and Fresh Fruits:
The juxtaposition of dried and fresh fruit makes the compote more interesting. Build on it by adding fruit that have been poached first, such as quince or pears, or fresh fruit, including peeled and sliced Fuyu persimmons or a few sections of blood oranges or Asian pears, or by strewing pomegranate seeds over all.