Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Naturally sweet: berry compote

Fruit compote was originally a dessert; warmed fruit in a sweet syrup, served warm or cold. These days, fruit compote is more often used as a sauce and I love it on pancakes. Some recipes are loaded with added sugars, but with mine, we let the natural sweetness and flavor of the fruits shine through.

Don't forget about the naturally occurring sugars in the fruits however; this dish is not sugar free. What makes this dish better than candy or soda is the good nutrition packaged with the fruit; vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. This is the good stuff!

You can easily scale this recipe down to one serving for you, or make a big pot for a crowd for brunch. For this reason, I don't have concrete measurement for you. If you like thicker sauce, add the higher range of cornstarch, if you like the sauce thinner, use less. Don't be scared, you can do it! This sauce looks very impressive to serve for a party, but honestly whips up in a snap!

Berry Compote

  • Fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries all work well)
  • 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch per cup of fruit
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar per cup of fruit
  • 1-2 teaspoons of water per cup of fruit
  • Cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, or brandy if you wish
  1. Place your berries in a saucepan; no need to thaw
  2. Before turning on heat, add your sugar and cornstarch and coat the berries - this prevents lumps from forming. Add water, stir well and turn heat to medium. 
  3. As the berries thaw and then cook, the mixture will turn cloudy as the starch molecules hydrate. You know that your compote is ready when it is thickened and clear.I like to smash the fruit using a potato masher, some people like the leave the fruit whole. Up to you!
  4. Use this jeweled sauce to top pancakes, waffles, scones, yogurt or ice-cream.
For most of the year, frozen berries cost way less then fresh and are just as nutritious
Coat the berries with corn starch and a touch of sugar
Part way through cooking: the starch is opaque
Bring on the pancakes!
I just tried this whole grain pancake mix and really liked it. Have you ever tried buckwheat? Despite having wheat in the name, it isn't actually a grain, it is a seed and by itself is gluten free (this mix contains wheat). Buckwheat is jam packed with good nutrition and has a great nutty flavor. Excellent for pancakes and waffles!

Quinoa is another pseudo-cereal; it tastes and cooks like a grain, but botanically isn't. It is delicious in this curried quinoa pilaf.

I used a potato masher to smash the fruit in this recipe as well as for my curried chickpea sandwich filling. This is a great multitasking tool!

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