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Summer Fruit Compote

The cherries and amarretto combine to give a sublime touch to this mixture.  I think it's because they're all these fruits and almonds are from the same family (botanically), and the amaretto helps marry the flavors.  That said, if you don't have amarretto on hand, it's still good.  The better the fruit you can start with (ideally just ripe), the finer the result.  I like it straight, but it does well over ice cream or with a crumb topping as a cobbler.

Per nectarine's worth (about three small servings):

1/4 # fresh cherries, pitted and halved (no substitutes!)

1 ripe nectarine, pitted and chopped

2 ripe plums, pitted and chopped

3 ripe apricots, pitted and chopped

1-2 t sugar, depending on tartness of fruit

2 t amarretto (optional)*

In a heavy saucepan, toss the fruit with the sugar.  Let sit for 20-30' to draw out the fruit juices.

Add the amarretto.  Set the pan to heat gently and barely simmer for 15-20', until the fruit is soft but not mushy.  

It will develop a most intoxicating fragrance as it cooks; if you can resist eating it all directly, it keeps beautifully and reheats easily in the microwave.  

Peaches can be added or substituted for some of the nectarines and apricots, but the cherries are essential.

*Suggested substitutions:  1 t almond extract, or about 1/4 t ground mahleb.

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