Top this: Blackberry Thyme Compote tops pound cake, ice cream, waffles, pancakes…

by Terry B on May 16, 2012

Five ingredients—blackberries, lemon juice, sugar, water and fresh thyme—cook quickly into a compote that can be used to top homemade or store-bought desserts beautifully. Recipe below.

I was surprised when I bit into some fresh blackberries last week. Okay, partly because they weren’t just good, but really wonderful (I guess even the ever bountiful California has its seasonal differences). But the big surprise was that I immediately thought of dessert.

Dessert doesn’t see a lot of action at our house. I mean, we always keep something sweet in the house—dark chocolate bars, rice pudding, the occasional package of cookies. But after dinner, we don’t usually think of dessert as a course, as something that needs preparing. More often, it’s “I could use a little something sweet.” And that need is frequently met with a couple of squares of chocolate or even a piece of bread with some apricot jam (we are never without apricot jam).

In fact, when we’re putting together a small dinner party, we sometimes have to remind ourselves to plan a dessert for it. So that those juicy, sweet blackberries made me think of dessert surprised me.

What probably won’t surprise you is the simplicity of this compote. As much as I like to think of my cooking as subtle, surprising and maybe complex at times, things like this seem to be what I do best—or at least most often. A handful of ingredients (five in this case, if you count the water) simply prepared. This blackberry thyme compote is simple even by my standards, hardly a recipe at all. And it’s not a dessert on its own, but a topping to be served warm over waffles or pancakes or, simplifying things further, store-bought vanilla ice cream or pound cake, as I’ve done here.

As simple as it is, the compote elevates whatever you choose to accompany it. The sweet/tart blackberries soften during brief cooking, releasing their juice to create a thin, flavorful syrup that soaks into pound cake particularly nicely. And the thyme adds an element of the garden and summer, with its fresh, slightly minty taste.

Blackberry Thyme Compote
Makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Note: The most time-consuming part of this recipe is plucking the thyme leaves from the stems. But do this rather than chopping the thyme; you’ll avoid biting into little bits of stem later.

Bring the water and sugar just to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until sugar completely dissolves, just a minute or two. Stir in the blackberries and lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, until berries release their juices and begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook; you want the berries to retain their form and not collapse into a runny, lumpy jam. remove from heat and stir in thyme leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature over ice cream, pound cake, waffles, pancakes or whatever.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

sara May 16, 2012 at 2:57 am

Yum, this compote looks so tasty…those berries look perfect! Love the addition of fresh thyme.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) May 16, 2012 at 11:19 am

Perfect! I have thyme in my garden, and a neighbor with a large path of blackberry bushes. We don’t eat much dessert in our house, either, but when we do, it almost always involves fruit.

kitchenriffs May 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Really nice. I always forget to use thyme in desserts, and its flavor is superb. I wonder if a touch of black pepper would work too? It’s a nice combo with strawberries, but I’ve never tried it with blackberries. Good recipe – thanks.

Rosabel May 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm

thanks for sharing this great recipe! And the thyme in it is such a great idea! Tips : I usually replace sugar with organic maple syrup. It gives a very unique taste to the recipe..and it is healthier! I know it is not always easy to find. I get mine with rougemape (online) and it is really the best I’ve found so far (and being from Quebec, Canada, I tried a lot of brand to date!) Bon appetit!

Melanie @ Just Some Salt and Pepper May 17, 2012 at 12:51 am

This looks and sounds wonderful! Over some vanilla ice cream, slightly melted…yummmm.

Terry B May 17, 2012 at 3:41 am

Thanks, Sara!

Lydia, if you like fruit for dessert, you might enjoy my Rosemary Apricots, a classically French dessert every bit as simple as this one—and delicious, if I say so myself.

Kitchenriffs, I’m not sure about black pepper on this, but it might be worth a try.

Rosabel, the syrup might be an interesting alternative here. My only concern is that it might change the flavor a little too much.

Melanie, ice cream was my first thought, actually. But I was just in the mood for pound cake.

Patricia - Grab a Plate May 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Love, love, love this! Love the simplicity, herbs & berries – everything!
Thanks for sharing – I can’t wait to try this!

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