Winter Fruit Compote with Honey-Whipped Goat Cheese Crème

Description

Poached fruits are like sponges, soaking up the spices in which they're cooked. Yummy figs, succulent pears, tart cherries - they are all infused with the exotic herbs of chai tea. The spicy, fruity mix is complemented with the tangy goat cheese, and the sharpness further accentuated with the lemon zest. In the end, the honey tempers all the soft elements of this compote, making it a light winter delight.
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Ingredients

Compote:
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 4 chai tea bags, preferably green tea
- 3/4 cup dried Calimyrna or Mission figs, trimmed and halved (4oz)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 strips fresh lemon zest
- 3 (8oz) firm ripe pears, peeled, halved, cored and sliced crosswise
- 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Creme:
- 4 oz. Ile de France Goat Cheese, at room temperature (1 cup crumbled)
- 3 tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon rind
- 3 tbsp. of heavy cream
- 1/3 cup light sour cream or marscapone

Methods/steps

1. Prepare compote: In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat, add tea bags and steep 4 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard.
2. Add figs, apricots, honey, sugar and lemon zest to pan. Bring to a bare simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Stir in pears and cherries, pressing down fruit to submerge. Return to simmer and cook until pears are just tender, about 4-8 minutes (depending on ripeness of pears). Bosc or Bartlett pears are a good variety, as they cook well and hold their shape nicely. Cover and set aside to cool for at least 2 hours. Stir in lemon juice and pepper. (Can be served warm, cool or at room temperature). (Yield: 4 Cups).
3. Prepare Crème: In a small bowl, cream together goat cheese, heavy cream, honey and lemon zest with flexible spatula until smooth. Add sour cream and fold together until combined. Serve with compote. Decorate with a few goat cheese crumbles. (Yield: ¾ cup).

Wine pairing: A fruit compote calls for a light-bodied wine. Choose from Soave, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, champagne and others. An after-dinner coffee, “spiked” with a touch of liqueur also goes well.

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