This quick and easy fresh cherry compote is made without orange juice and is a cinch to make with just four ingredients. Perfect over cheesecake or your favorite desserts.
What is it about cherries that makes that taste so good? The little morsels of fresh juicy sweetness remind me of sunshine and summer days. Maybe it's because cherry season only lasts a few short months, and in Australia it coincides with Christmas, so I always associate bowl fulls of fat, juicy cherries with festive cheer.
Recipe tips and frequently asked questions
What can I do with cherries?
There are so many things you can do with fresh cherries!
- Pit them and eat them fresh
- Make a cherry compote to use on cheesecake, ice cream or pavlova
- Make fresh summer cherry popsicles or ice cream
- Wash and pit them, then spread them out on a tray and freeze. Once frozen transfer to an airtight container and freeze for use later. This will help stop them from sticking together.
What is cherry compote?
Like any other fruit compote, cherry compote is a simple mix of chunky fruit cooked in its own juices. It typically has sugar or other sweeteners. It often contains other ingredients to enhance the flavors such as spices, juices, flavorings or booze.
What to do with cherry compote?
There are so many fabulous uses for this cherry sauce. Some of my favorites are:
- As a topping drizzled over cheesecake, such as my no bake chocolate cheesecake
- As a topping for ice cream, such as my easy vanilla ice cream or black forrest ice cream.
- For breakfast spooned over pancakes, french toast, waffles or yogurt and granola.
- Drizzled over a classic pavlova or my easy basic meringes with whipped cream.
- Spooned over a creamy rice pudding or pana cotta.
- Drizzled over cake, such as a chocolate cake, almond cake or polenta cake.
Can I use frozen or canned cherries?
Yes you can. Make sure the cherries are pitted or you will need to pit them.
Frozen or canned cherries may have more liquid, so you may need to turn down the heat and cook the compote for longer to thicken it up.
Canned or tinned cherries may contain a lot of sugar and other ingredients. Look for low or no added sugar with minimal other ingredients if possible. You may need to reduce the amount of maple syrup or not add any at all if the canned cherries you are using already contain a lot of sugar.
Can I use sour red cherries?
Also known as tart or morello or red cherries. This recipe was created with sweet black cherries. I have not tested it with tart cherries however in theory it should work. You will probably need to add a little extra maple syrup or some sugar to make up for the tartness of the cherries.
Can I add different flavors?
I have kept the flavors simple in this easy fruit compote to allow the cherry flavor to shine, however you could absolutely mix things up with other flavors. Some delicious options include
- Replace the almond essence with vanilla essence.
- Make it boozy by adding a splash of your favorite alcohol such as amaretto, bourbon, kirsch, Chambord or cherry liqueur.
- Temper the sweetness of the cherries by adding some tangy sour notes such as balsamic vinegar, red wine, lemon, lime or orange juice.
- Spice it up with a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, Chinese five-spice or black pepper.
Fresh sweet black cherries: I use fresh sweet black cherries, sometimes also known as sweet cherries, black cherries or dark cherries. You can use frozen cherries but make sure they are pitted and defrosted before using. You may need to cook the compote on low for longer to evaporate off some of the water, and the cherries may break apart more and be less chunky.
Maple syrup: a little maple syrup adds sweetness and some extra depth of flavor to this fruit compote while keeping it refined sugar-free. You could use two to three tablespoons of white sugar or even brown sugar if you prefer but you will need to add a little water to make up for the liquid in the syrup.
Almond essence: a little dash of almond essence really enhances the cherry flavor of this compote. You could use vanilla essence instead or leave it out altogether. But I really recommend using almond essence if you can get it, it really works in this compote.
Tapioca starch (not pictured): is an easy way to thicken this coulis. I find it has a lighter less pasty flavor than corn starch. You could swap with the same amount of arrowroot powder or corn starch instead. If you are planning on freezing the compote I recommend using tapioca starch, it will handle freezing better than corn starch.
How to make cherry compote
See the full recipe card at the end of the post for ingredient amounts and instructions.
Remove the stems from the cherries and pit them. It's best to use a cherry pitter for this, they are inexpensive and it really does make the job easier! Slice the cherries in halves or quarters, depending on how big the cherries are.
How to pit cherries without a cherry pitter
Remember to use gloves or your hands may get stained with cherry juice.
- Use a small pairing knife to cut the pits out of the cherries.
- Put the cherry over a solid bottle such as a clean empty wine bottle. - Use a chopstick or similar to push the pit through into the bottle.
- For very ripe cherries try pushing through one side with a straw.
Add the sliced, pitted cherries to a small pot with the maple syrup and almond essence. Add the tapioca starch to a small bowl with ½ tablespoon of water and mix to form a slurry. Add to the pot with the cherries.
Cover the pot with a lid and bring to the boil. Remove the lid and simmer with the lid off for about ten minutes. or until the compote thickens slightly. It will thicken more as it cools.
Serve immediately warm, or allow to cool before transferring to a heat-proof container and chilling in the fridge until ready to use.
How to serve
To serve spoon the compote while still warm over your favorite cozy dessert such as a creamy rice pudding. Or chill and drizzle over your favorite cold desserts, such a decadent chocolate cheesecake, some whipped cream and meringue nests or with a scoop of ice cream of course!
How to store
You can store this easy fruit compote in a covered container in the fridge for up to five days.
Can you can cherry compote?
This recipe is not suitable for home canning, as there is not enough sugar to preserve via this method. Because the compote is so quick and easy to make you could use regular home-canned cherries and whip up a batch of compote when you want it. For longer storage time I recommend freezing the compote instead.
Can you freeze cherry compote?
Yes you can freeze cherry compote. Put it into a freezer-proof container and freeze for up to three months. Freezing the compote in ice cub trays means you can take out a couple of serves when you want it. Make sure to defrost completely before eating.
Have you made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below and tag me on instagram so I can see your delicious creations! @keep_calm_and_eat_icecream
Looking for more yummy dessert recipes?
Why not try making
- Cherry Mango popsicles
- Pineapple Cherry popsicles
- Strawberry Compote
- Raspberry Compote
- Plum Compote
- Peach Compote
- 3 cups (500gms) fresh or frozen cherries
- 3 tablespoons (45mls) maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon almond essence
- ½ teaspoon tapioca starch
- Remove the cherries from the stems and pit them with a cherry pitter. Cut the cherries into halves or quarters, depending on how big they are.
- Add the sliced pitted cherries, maple syrup and almond essence to a small pot on the stove. Add the tapioca starch to a small bowl with ½ tablespoon of water and mix to form a slurry. Add to the pot with the cherries.
- Cover the pot with a lid and bring to the boil. Remove the lid and simmer with the lid off for about ten minutes, or until the compote thickens slightly. It will thicken more as it cools.
- Serve immediately warm, or allow to cool before transferring to a heat-proof container and chilling in the fridge until ready to use.
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