After the dinner dishes are cleared from the table and I want something sweet and slightly more hearty than a piece of fresh fruit, I turn to compote. This time of year, it's fennel pear compote. The pears caramelize in vanilla, honey, dry white wine, with a soft chew of fennel. Spoon the compote over greek-style yogurt or ice cream for the final note to your holiday meal.
1 1/2 pounds
(about 3 medium) of ripe but firm pears, like Anjou
fennel seeds (pounded with a mortar and pestle)
vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped)
dry white wine (like sauvignon blanc)
Peel, halve, and core the pears. Slice the fruit into thick wedges, roughly 4 slices for each half; set aside.
In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat the butter, honey, cardamom, vanilla bean pod and seeds, and wine over medium heat. Stir frequently until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for about 1 minute or just until the caramel thickens a bit.
Add the pears to the pan, arranging them in an even layer. If they don’t sizzle, turn the heat up. Allow the pears to sear in the caramel untouched for about 1 minute, this means resist the urge to shake or flip them in the pan, or they won’t color.
Serve the compote warm. Spoon over greek-style yogurt or ice cream.