Here's the hot water bottle of desserts, warming and weirdly pink. While dried fruit simmered in wine may seem old-fashioned or unsexy, we think this is a rich luxury for an icy night.
The warm wine, cloves, cinnamon, and pepper wake up summer's stone fruits and turn them in to something more than we were expecting.
Serve the fruit with a scoop of ice cream, sour cream, Greek yogurt, or fresh ricotta. Try leftovers on your oatmeal the next morning.
Dried Fruit Warmed with Red Wine and Spices
1 pound dried fruit (we usually do apricots and cherries, but have been known to try peaches, figs, even pineapples)
2 cups red wine
1 cup water
zest of 1/2 a lemon, cut into matchstick strips
1/2 cinnamon stick
ground black pepper to taste
Stir the fruit, wine and water, zest, and spices together in a saucepan or small Dutch oven. Fruit should just peek above the top of the water and wine -- add more water and wine as necessary to keep the fruit covered. Warm over medium-heat until pot starts to boil. Decrease heat and keep it at a simmer, just below boiling, for 45 minutes.
Dried fruits each have their own personality, some have retained more moisture than others and some have sugar added. Keep an eye on the pot to make sure there is always enough liquid in the pot to keep the fruit from burning.
After 45 minutes, taste the fruit for sweetness. We usually add about four tablespoons. Simmer for ten more minutes to allow the sugar to be absorbed into the liquid to create a thin syrup.
Remove the cinnamon and cloves. This can be served warm or at room temperature.
It is excellent if made ahead of time and reheated, this gives more time for the flavors to permeate the fruit. Pull the cinnamon and cloves to stay in the dessert if you store it. Their flavors can overpower the fruit flavors. If you don't have room on the stovetop -- in the right pot -- this can also be made or kept warm in the oven.
Let us know how you modify this recipe: some add a vanilla bean, ginger or use a touch of mulling spices, other simmer in plain water or a fruit juice.