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Plum Compote with Star Anise

Plums and star anise form a brilliant and novel pairing. Although you don't eat it, we like to leave the star anise in the syrup because it looks so beautiful; you can remove it if you prefer. Serve the compote with pound cake or butter cookies.

  • Servings: 4

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  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar, more if the plums are tart
  • 8 whole star anise
  • 2 pounds red and/or black plums (about 9), halved and pitted
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. In a medium stainless-steel saucepan, combine the wine, water, sugar, and star anise and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.
  2. Add the plums. Bring the poaching liquid back to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the plums are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the plums and their liquid into a glass or stainless-steel bowl and let cool. Stir in the lemon juice.


Variations You can use red wine instead of white.
Add several strips of orange zest to the saucepan along with the star anise.

To help keep the plums submerged, create a "lid" from parchment paper. Just cut out a round that's the size of the saucepan with a hole in the middle to allow steam to escape. Put the parchment on top of the liquid, so it keeps the plums submerged as much as possible. To be certain that the plums poach evenly, turn them halfway through the cooking.

Photo © Ben Dearnley

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