Even though the simmering action of making a compote might make you think of winter, what goes into a berry compote is all summer: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, even rhubarb. All you need is some fruit, some liquid — wine or water works best — some sweetener, and some spices. You’ll have a refreshing fruit dessert in just 20 minutes.
I like to leave my compotes chunky and then use them as fillings or eat them plain as fruit soup, but you could also purée your compote to make an elegant sauce for drizzling over ice cream or pie. And actually, you can keep the berry compotes coming in the winter time, too, seeing as that’s prime cranberry season.
Summer Berry Compote
1 pint berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.)
2 stalks rhubarb, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup maple syrup, preferably Grade B
1/4 cup water
6 whole cloves*
2 whole cardamom pods*
1 stick cinnamon*
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. pomegranate molasses or tamarind paste (if you don’t have either one of these, use 1 T. light molasses and 1 T. lemon juice)
1 tsp. tapioca flour or cornstarch (optional)
Place all ingredients except tapioca flour/cornstarch in a medium-sized saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and remove spices. If you’d like a thicker compote, whisk in the tapioca flour/cornstarch while the compote is still piping hot. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
Serve compote immediately or let it cool, depending on what you’re going to do with it. A cool fruit compote served with a dollop of Greek yogurt makes a wonderful summer dessert soup, for example, or you can fill crepes with the compote and then top with the yogurt as I did for the pictured dish. Since the compote will keep for a week in the fridge, you can serve it over waffles, pancakes, or cereals. Or you can blend it with fresh fruit to make a richly-flavored smoothie…or serve it with ice cream or frozen yogurt. The possibilities are endless.
* In order to be able to fish out the spices more easily, place them in a reusable muslin tea bag or tie them into a square of cheesecloth.