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With the abundance of apples hanging from our apple tree, our family has been anxiously harvesting and savoring this Eden fruit. I wanted to share with you a delicious recipe we recently enjoyed: Compote de pommes (French Applesauce).
It's suprising how popular this is in France. It's one of the first foods babies get to eat, but it's also a household standby there; a small bowlful topped with a little creme fraiche or mixed with yogurt makes a dessert, as does a few spoonfuls savored with a couple of elegant cookies.
Compote de pommes can be as simple as cooking cut-up apples with a little water (to keep them from scorching) until they're soft enough to mash with a spoon or as sophisticated as cooking them until they're dark and carmelish (halfway between applesauce & apple butter), then mixing them with salted butter, to make a treat that's a specialty of both Normandy (which is just about synonymous with apples) and Brittany (where salted butter reigns).
If you decide to make the darker compote, you can double the recipe- you'll be cooking the apples for a long time (getting the texture you want can take over 30 minutes), so you might want to maximize your effort by doubling.
2 pounds (6 medium) apples, preferably red apples like Empire, Cortland or McIntosh
About 1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 Tablespoon organic sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons salted butter, for thicker compote (optional)
Peel & core the apples. Cut the fruit into chunks and toss them into a medium saucepan- one with a heavy bottom works best here.
Stir in 1/4 cup of water and brown sugar & put the pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently- stay close, because the juices can bubble up- until the apples are soft enough to be crushed with the back of a spoon. If the pan looks too dry, add a little more water as you cook & stir. Count on about 15-20 minutes to get to the mashable stage.
If you want regular compote de pommes, remove the pan from the heat and run the compote through a food mill. If you're without a mill, push it through a strainer- or don't: chunky applesauce is great. Should the applesauce seem too thin for you, pour it back into the pan and cook, stiring constantly, for a few minutes, until the sauce is thick enough to mound on a spoon.
Scoop applesauce into a bowl. If you're making the regular compote, taste it now and if you 'd like it sweeter, add some of the sugar. Now is also the time to add the vanilla, if you want it.
If you want to cook the compote down so that it's thicker and jammier, it's best to strain it first- but don't add the sugar or vanilla (yet). Return the compote to the saucepan, put the pan over the lowest possible heat, and cook, stiring and scraping the bottom of the pan often, until you have a thick, spreadable mixture. (This can take more than 30 minutes for a single recipe and more than an hour if you've doubled it, so be patient it's worth it!) Let cool slightly, taste for sweetness. Usually cooked down like this, it will probably be sweet enough. Add the vanilla, if you. like. Stir in the butter if you are using it. Whichever compote you've made, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface & chill.
from: "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan
Bon appettit! May you and your family slowly savor the delicious fragrance and flavors of Autumn.
In Wonder at His Beautiful World,