August 15, 2022

A la Carte: Stone Fruit Caramel Delights the Palate in Both Summer, Winter

Lee White

I have in my Kindle at least four sample books waiting for me to read. No matter the weather, I probably read four to five hours a day.

But at night, in bed, I read recipes.

When I find ingredients that sound really good, I tear out the page and, within a day or two, buy the ingredients and make the food.  If I like the recipe, I want you to have that recipe, so I cobble up a few sentences, write the recipe and hope you like try it, too.

I love the recipe below.

I had made this with peaches. I peel them (a quick dunk in boiling water, peel and remove the pit). It is harder to pit the cherries, but a cheap cherry pitter makes it a lot easier.

I think the recipe would freeze well. Imagine having tapioca or rice pudding, some ice cream and/or a slice of toasted pound cake topped with fruit caramel months after that fruit was picked.

The very thought makes winter seem bearable.

Stone Fruit Caramel
From Bon Appetit, June/July 2021

12 ounces ripe stone fruit (plums, peaches, nectarines, sour or sweet cherries, apricots), pitted
2 to 3 tablespoons vinegar (unseasoned rice vinegar, apple cider, sherry, Champagne or red wine)
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ teaspoon pure vanilla paste or vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract (optional, but I love almond anything with fruit)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more (I always use fine sea salt)

Coarsely chop half the fruit and place in blender along with any juices that have accumulated on cutting board. Chop remaining into ½-1” pieces (no need to chop if using cherries); set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to fruit in blender. Puree until mostly smooth. Taste and add up to 1 tablespoons vinegar to brighten, if needed. You should have ½ cup, depending on the juiciness of your fruit.

Pour sugar in an even layer in a medium heavy saucepan, set over medium heat and cook, undisturbed until most of the sugar is melted. Stir gently until all is melted.

Continue to cook, without serving, until caramel is amber in color, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour fruit puree, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture seizes. Set back over medium heat, cook, stirring, until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Add reserved chopped fruit, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until caramel is budding and thickened slightly and fruit is warmed through, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the fruit.

Remove heat and stir in butter, vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract, almond extract (if using) and salt. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Let cool slightly before serving. 

To do ahead: Fruit caramel can be made three weeks ahead. Let cool. Transfer to an airtight container; cover and chill.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com