Fresh apricots are some of summer’s juiciest delicacies. Soft and fragrant, I spotted some last week, irresistibly mounded in a wooden crate at the farmers market. I filled up two bags and brought them home, wondering if we could devour them all before they turned to mush.
Then I remembered my favorite Bonne Maman compote from France, which I have never been able to find here at home. With summer slipping by and the half-life of apricot season well behind, I attempted to replicate the deliciously tart conserves, less sweet than a jam but more concentrated than a purée.
Since the apricots were at their peak, I figured I could eliminate all white sugar, relying on their natural sweetness. But I wanted to add some harmonizing flavors, so I used a combination of orange juice and maple syrup, simmering the fruity liquid down to an ambrosial nectar. For the final touch, I scraped a fresh vanilla pod into the mix. The notes were just right; the texture fluid and luscious…liquid sunshine.
Dip into a bowl of this with a toasted baguette and you might feel transported to a French café. Add a handful of roasted pistachio nuts to the bowl and serve it as a condiment to cheese and crackers. Or spoon some over ice cream, angel cake, even panna cotta. Happily, summer is still in full swing.
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1-1/2 pounds fresh ripe apricots, pitted, halved, and chopped
1 (4-inch) vanilla bean pod, split (optional)
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat the orange juice and maple syrup and bring to a boil.
2. Add the chopped apricots and return to a boil. Scrape the vanilla bean into the pot and add the pod as well. Lower the heat and simmer very gently for about 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a syrup and the apricots have broken down.
3. Serve warm with ice cream. Or cool completely and transfer to sterilized glass containers to refrigerate.
Photo credits: memoriesinthebaking.blogspot.com and theshiksa.com