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Apple & Pear Compote with Maple-Candied Walnuts


The taste of cooked apples immediately transports me back to countless after-school snacks sitting at my parents kitchen table or on a playground bench in Central Park, slowly peeling back the foil top and savoring every last velvety bite.  I wanted to keep that taste alive in this recipe but give it slightly more depth of flavor and texture.   I did not add any sugar to the recipe because ripe fruit really does not need any, especially when cooked, and the pears help to balance the tartness of the apples.  They also break down faster, creating the familiar sauce texture while allowing the apples to remain chunky.

fruit!

What is so great about this dish is its versatility: make it a tasty addition to your morning yogurt and granola, a healthy dessert on its own, or gussy it up with a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream.  The walnuts are a delicious garnish that add texture – but if you take my advice and add the chipotle powder to the mix, its a whole different ballgame.  Talk about grown-up apple sauce!

ginger

This is fresh ginger from the farmer’s market – I had never seen it without that gnarly gray exterior so of course I had to buy this huge piece.  Most recipes (including this one) only call for a tiny bit of ginger, leaving the rest of the piece to rot in the back of the fridge.  To avoid this tragedy, I peel the whole thing and freeze it – then when a recipe calls for fresh ginger I use a microplane or zester to grate however much I need (no thawing or chopping necessary!).

flavor-melding
candied walnuts

APPLE & PEAR COMPOTE WITH MAPLE – CANDIED WALNUTS

Serves 4-6

2 lbs apples – tart apples such as Granny Smith or Mutsu (aka Crispin) are best

1 lb pears – Bartlett or Bosc work nicely

1 cup apple cider

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp kosher salt

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

½ cup golden raisins

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples and pears into uniform chunks – the smaller the pieces, the more apple-saucey the result.

  2. Combine everything except the raisins in a large pot over medium heat and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the apples are tender all the way through, about 30 minutes, depending on the fruit size.

  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the raisins.  Cover the pot and let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the raisins to plump up.

MAPLE – CANDIED WALNUTS

3 cups walnuts

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ sugar in the raw (also called Demerara sugar)

½ tsp kosher salt

½ – ¾ tsp chipotle powder (optional but highly recommended)

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a bowl, combine walnuts and maple syrup, tossing to coat fully.  In a separate bowl, stir salt, and chipotle powder (if using) into the sugar then add to walnuts.

  3. Spread walnuts on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 10 minutes, give the walnuts a stir and bake for another 5-7 minutes until they start to brown and smell toasty.

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