Cherry and Vanilla Bean Compote
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 pound fresh sweet cherries, halved and pits removed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or ½ vanilla bean, halved and scraped
Combine the sugar, vanilla bean (if using) and the water (which will look like wet sand) in a heavy saucepan and cover with a glass lid.
Place over medium-low heat. After approximately 8 to 10 minutes, you will see the color of the sugar darken slightly to a light golden tan. Give the pan a small swirl to ensure that one part of the caramel doesn’t cook faster than another part.
Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook until a light brown caramel color is achieved, swirling the pan as necessary.
With the heat still on low, carefully add the cherries. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon and cook until the cherries begin to give off their liquid, 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using.
Serve or cool to room temperature.