Recipes: Warm Winter Fruit Salad

swollenThis dessert was inspired by the wintry weather and all that lovely dried fruit I bought from Happy Fruit a few weeks ago at the Coburg Farmers’ Market.  And then I ordered some freeze-dried fruit from TasteBom and it arrived with a little note saying that I was their 200th customer, and a few extra goodies, including the most luscious, plump-looking vanilla beans I’ve ever seen.  A perfect combination.

It’s a bit of a nostalgia dish for me – warm and comforting, and faintly reminiscent of my childhood – I think my mum used to make a more alcoholic version of this for dinner parties back in the 80s.

Best of all, the recipe is very simple, and quite delicious – the dried fruit plumps up and becomes pillowy-soft and infused with flavour from the vanilla and marsala, but mostly it just tastes wonderfully of itself.  And, I have to say, it’s pretty exciting to see the dried nectarines swell up until they actually look like nectarine halves.  But then, I am perhaps easily amused by such things…


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100 g dried apricots
100 g dried apples
100 g dried pears
100 g dried nectarines or dried peaches
50 g raisins
750 ml water
50 ml sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) marsala
half a vanilla bean

Now what will you do with it?

Put everything except the vanilla bean in a saucepan.


Use a knife to slit the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds – which are sticky, your best bet is to scrape the knife off onto some of the fruit.


Bring to a simmer, and cook, covered and quite gently, for an hour or so, or until you’ve finished watching Bride and Prejudice.


The fruit should be puffed up and pillowy-soft so that you can cut the apples with a spoon, and there should only be a small amount syrup left, as the fruit will have absorbed all the liquid.



Serve with icecream for dessert, or over Emily’s Baked Gingerbread Porridge for breakfast.




You can use just about any kind or combination of dried fruit in this recipe, and any flavouring you like, too – orange juice, port or brandy, spices – the choice is yours.  This dessert is, of course, vegan, gluten-free and nut-free, and equally obviously high in fructose.  It’s not too bad from a glycemic index standpoint, but it’s still fairly sweet.  You’d probably be best off serving it with yoghurt or the aforementioned porridge to counteract that…



Two years ago: Recipe: Baked Cauliflower
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4 comments for “Recipes: Warm Winter Fruit Salad

  1. June 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    My grandmother used to make something similar as a dessert for Passover (when leavened baked goods are forbidden). She used dried peaches (or nectarines), apples, pears, prunes, a little sugar, water, and a sliced (fresh) lemon or two. The prunes and lemon slices were the favorite parts for both me and my sister, and oh, how we used to fight over them!

    • Catherine
      June 19, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Oh, how interesting – I’d assumed my mother’s recipe started off as a Margaret Fulton one, but now you mention your grandmother’s Passover dessert, I wonder if mum originally got the recipe from her mother, since that side of the family is Ashkenazi Jewish (though this was something we were never supposed to talk about while Oma was alive – given what her generation went through, I’m not surprised at the secretiveness).

      I don’t think Mum ever used lemon, but she might have used orange slices. I’m going to have to ask, now!

  2. June 19, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I’d struggle not to eat the dried fruit before I got to cooking it, but if I could manage it, I think I’d love this!

    • Catherine
      June 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Yes, that’s always a bit of a challenge, but the melting texture is really worth it if you can manage to let it all cook…

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