The apricots available at my local farmer's market are of the rosy cheeked variety, and this time of year it is impossible to ignore them. Their blushing faces stare up at me from their baskets every time I walk by, making them completely irresistible to my produce loving heart and I pick up a handful or two every chance I get.
Like most fruit this time of year, fresh apricots require very little to make them sing. Prepared this way, they are not as sweet or smooth as jam, but a bit of sugar (or honey), vanilla, and gentle heat coaxes out all of their wonderful rich, buttery flavor without losing their distinct tartness. They slump over in the pan and release their juices making them the perfect topping for all sorts of dishes.
The day I made this compote, we piled big spoonfuls on top of a batch of "Waffles of Insane Greatness" which were so tasty and easy to put together on the fly, but if you can anticipate your desire for waffles the night before, give Marion Cunningham's Yeasted Waffles a try. You have to let part of the batter rest overnight, but the reward of crisp, full flavored breakfast treats will far outweigh the little bit of effort required to put the batter together. Both recipes can be found in this post (with far more poetic descriptions) by Molly from Orangette if you're curious.
I can also say with authority that the compote is great eaten by the spoonful, straight from the fridge or with yogurt for breakfast or an afternoon snack. I imagine it would also be delicious spooned over some crispy baked puff pastry and garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche for dessert.
See how I used apricots last summer in this Apricot Jam with Saffron and Rose.
Fresh Apricot Compote with Vanilla
yield about 1 1/2 cups
1 pound/453g rosy cheeked apricots
1.5-3 ounces/36-72g sugar or honey depending on the sweetness of the fruit
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1, 1/2'' wide strip of lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1. Remove the pits from the apricots by gently tearing the fruit in half. Add the pitted apricot halves, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod, lemon zest, lemon juice and water to a medium saucepan and stir gently to combine.
2. Cook the mixture on medium low heat until the sugar dissolves and the apricots begin to release their juices. Turn the heat up to medium and gently simmer the apricots, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and beginning to fall apart, but not completely mushy. About 10-15 minutes. Taste the apricots and add a bit more sweetener if desired.
3. Remove the vanilla bean pod and reserve it for another use, remove the strip of lemon zest and serve the apricots warm or cold. If there are any leftovers, store them in the fridge.