Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pear and Apple Compote with Spiced Butter Biscuits

This is my first submission to Sugar High Fridays, an online blogging event that happens every month. All you have to do is make a sweet treat within the selected  theme, then submit your recipe and a photo. I thought it would be easy, especially given this month's theme, Spices. What a great, vast and vague theme. How hard could it be? I thought about using one of my Mom's or my Granny's wonderful spicy recipes, like Ginger Cookies or Apple Spice Cake, but then I thought I should do something more original, use my imagination a little.
At this time of year I buy bags and bags of pears and apples every time I go to the store, anticipating winter, when you can't buy a decent piece of fruit to save your life. I had been wanting to use the star anise that I have in a cute little jar in my spice cupboard (up until now all I've done with it is smell it occasionally). I also picked up some cinnamon sticks the other day. With all these yummy fall ingredients around, these recipes just naturally fell into place. I decided to make a compote with pears and apples and some lovely spices and sweeten it with honey. Then, to dress it up, a buttery shortbread biscuit with some of the same spices. 
JS was my photographer for the day, and I have to say that about 30 seconds after taking the photo you see here, the cookies and compote were gone. When I make something that gets this hearty a reception from him, I know it's good. He's not an easy boy to please in the food department. So here you go, enjoy!

Pear and Apple Compote

4 ripe Anjou pears
2 McIntosh apples
4 tbsp honey
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
a good grating of nutmeg

Peel and chop the pears and apples into small chunks. Put everything into a medium sized pot and cook, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Take the lid off and continue cooking and enjoying the smell for about another 10 minutes. When the fruit is tender, remove from heat and discard the star anise and cinnamon stick. Put through food mill on fine, or blitz in the food processor until smooth. I like the food mill because it doesn't allow any fibrous bits through, plus it feels very old-fashioned. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.

Spiced Butter Biscuits

Preheat oven to 300 F.

1 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Cream together until well blended. Add:

1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Stir into butter and sugar until smooth.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
pinch salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp each ground cloves and freshly ground nutmeg

Blend these dry ingredients together then add to butter, sugar and egg mixture with a spatula. When it comes together, press into a parchment lined 9x13 pan. Score the surface of the dough with a knife to create squares or rectangles to the size you like. Sprinkle with white sugar. Bake for about 45 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges and not too soft to the tough in the middle. Remove the parchment from the pan onto a wire rack to cool, then break along the score lines.
Serve with Pear and Apple compote, sharp cheese, nuts and dried fruit for a casual dessert, or eat simply with tea.


veron said...

what a perfect time of year to make this compote. Lovely with the biscuits too!

Anonymous said...

i am hearting the spiced butter biscuits....