Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Apple Compote - All Natural, Healthier Dessert

Wszystkiego Najlepszego na Nowy RokHappy New Year!
How many of you made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier this year?  I know I did, since being in the cookbook business can be “hazardous to my health!”  A favorite discussion around our house often centers on trying to find a healthier dessert, something to satisfy my sweet tooth but won’t make the calorie-patrol too angry.  One answer is this traditional go-to dessert – fruit compote.

Compotes date back to 17th century France and were made from pieces of fruit in a basic sugar syrup.  Whole fruits were placed in water, to which sugar and spices were added, and then warmed over gentle heat.  Flavors can be modified by adding vanilla bean, orange or lemon peel, cinnamon, cloves, ground almonds, shredded coconut, or raisins. The compote is then served either warm or chilled, and can be topped with a little whipped cream, powdered cinnamon or flavored sugar.  For a little kick, some alcohol can be added to the sugar syrup, such as rum or brandy.   The beauty of compotes is that you can add more or less sugar to the mix, to let the aromas of the fruit and flavorings really pop through on your palate.  And, depending on how much of a purist you are, they can be totally natural and even organic.    No more canned fruit...ever again!

Here is a Polish Apple Compote which is simple to prepare and pure as nature herself.   It’s a dessert you can’t buy in the usual grocery store.  The kids will love it as an everyday dessert, or you can dress it up with some color for the most elegant of dinner parties.

Serves 8
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
½ cup sugar, or less to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
8 semi-sweet apples, peeled, cored, quartered (Gala or Fuji are great)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring the water to a boil, add one cup of sugar and stir to dissolve; add the cinnamon and lemon zest; add the apples.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples are just soft.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Taste for sweetness.  The syrup should be refreshing and not cloyingly sweet.  You should clearly taste the cinnamon as well as a bit of lemon in the background.  Add or don’t add more sugar depending on your taste buds.  Adjust the flavorings slowly, if needed.  Simmer for 5 more minutes or until the apples are soft enough to cut with a dessert spoon, but not mushy.   Chill thoroughly before serving.   Smacznego!

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