Apple and Hokkaido Squash Compote with Vanilla Recipe

I recently read that online shopping — or just online window-shopping — was a widespread form of procrastination. I cannot remember where I read this, but that’s probably because reading random stuff on the Internet is another way in which I squander vast amounts of my time.

In any case, the online shopping observation certainly struck a chord, and an indisputable proof of my guilt arrived in the mail on Saturday morning: the telltale package sported pretty stamps from Mayotte and contained twenty plump pods of Bourbon vanilla grown on the archipelago*.

I blame it all on Pascale the Temptress, who recently wrote about a small company that does the world** a great service by selling pods of vanilla at the most competitive prices I’ve ever seen: if you buy twenty pods, each of them will cost you just one euro, and that’s shipping included, ladies and gentlemen***. Admittedly, twenty pods is a lot of vanilla — more than I’ve ever owned in my entire life — but I have countless plans for them, including bartering them for favors from friends and family.

[Update: Sadly, la Vanille de Mayotte is no longer in operation; I now buy Tahiti vanilla.]

This compote is the first thing I made with my Mayotte vanilla. I had originally bought the apples to bake a cake and the Hokkaido squash to make a soup, but somewhere along the line I decided to pair the two in a chunky-smooth, autumnal compote: as its French name indicates, potimarron has a flavor that hints on chestnut, and I figured this would make it a good friend to the apples.

The resulting compote is subtly sweet and richly flavored, with accents of citrus I hadn’t foreseen and warm, aromatic notes brought on by the vanilla. It can either be served for breakfast or dessert with butter or spice cookies to dip in, or as a side to boudin blanc, roasted poultry, or game — don’t you have holiday meals to plan?

* I will note in passing that I am very glad to have gotten the chance, for the second time in three years of C&Z, to use the word “archipelago”.

** La Vanille de Mayotte ships to more than thirty countries in the world. The website is in French, but they will reply to email enquiries in English.

*** As a matter of comparison, two exceptionally scrawny pods will cost you 4.37€ here.

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Apple and Hokkaido Squash Compote with Mayotte Vanilla Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Apple and Hokkaido Squash Compote with Mayotte Vanilla Recipe


  • One medium Hokkaido squash (potimarron), cubed
  • 1 kg (2 pounds) baking apples (I used a variety called Reinettes du Canada), peeled, cored, and cubed
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) unrefined cane sugar (you can omit the sugar if you plan on serving the compote with a savory dish)
  • 1 pod vanilla


  1. Combine the squash, apples, and sugar, if using, in a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Add 60 mL (1/4 cup) water, and set over medium heat. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise with a sharp knife, scrape the seeds with the dull side of the blade, and add the pod and seeds to the pot.
  2. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until tender, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove the pod and use an immersion blender or a potato ricer to purée the compote to the desired consistency.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container, put the pod back in (it will continue to infuse the compote with flavor) and refrigerate. Serve slightly warm or chilled.
  • I had bought a small tube of vanilla extract in a little shop in Salernes. At first I thought I was crazy doing this, I just couldn’t resist. Now I believe it was one of the best things (at least foodwise) I ever bought and I now use it constantly. It adds such a nice subtle vanilla flavor and was totally worth the 10 Euro I spent.

    The vanilla pods look great, thanks for sharing the link. I find vanilla pods to be awfully expensive, so I usually try to avoid them, although I do love the flavor. 1 Euro a pod is a bargain and thus ordering a bunch is so very tempting.

  • bernarD

    Clotilde: I’m surprised you went on to vanille de mayotte so late… I went and bought mes 5 gousses de vanille because of a link from your site.

    I have to say that I haven’t used all 5 of them yet but I’m now a proud owner of a very large jar of very strong smelling vanilla sugar.

  • amy

    This looks wonderful, Clotilde, but where do you get your squash? I admit I haven’t searched extensively, but I never see it in the markets around here.

  • Quelle délice!!miam!!

  • Marguerite

    Clotilde, je dois dire que j’adore votre page. Je la lire chaque jour. Merci pour tout le travail! J’ai acheté mes gousses de vanille ce matin, j’attends avec impatience l’opportunité de faire beaucoup de choses delicieux avec eux!

  • If you’re looking to use the vanilla in different recipes, I can recommend the slightly odd pairing of sea bass and vanilla butter sauce – one of Rick Stein’s signature dishes.
    The sauce (for a simple grilled fillet of bass) is a reduction of fish stock and vermouth with shallot and a small amount of vanilla pod, finished with clarified butter, a little chopped peeled tomato and some chervil. The chervil is important, as it (along with the tomato) cut through the richness of the sauce perfectly…

  • 20 pods…dagz…I’d have no idea what to do with those

  • Dear Clotilde, Hello! I too find that vanilla pods are very expensive. But recently I decided to buy a whopping one kilogram of it to use for my chocolates & cake stall! It gets seriously cheap once you buy in bulk! (75 GB pounds/ 1kg) Anyway, if you have a chance please see the blog I just started this Saturday on !

  • The combinations of apples and squash sounds delicious and versatile. I am not a huge fan of apples on their own. I was wondering how you can best store vanilla pods? Unfortunately, I can’t take advantage of those prices here in the U.S., but I would still like to know how long such an expensive item will keep. Thanks!

  • Blandine Boyer

    En me promenant sur votre site, j’ai trouvé un ancien post sur M. K. Fisher.
    J’ai acheté d’occasion aux USA il y a plusieurs années “The art of eating” (chez Collier books) qui compile “Serve at forth”, “Consider the oyster”, “How to cook a wolf”, “The gastronomical me”, “An alphabet for gourmets”.
    Si vous ne les avez pas tous trouvés depuis ce vieux message, je vous le prêterai volontier, c’est un de mes livres de chevet.
    N’ hésitez pas à me contacter, j’ai aussi quelques autres curiosités en livres de cuisine anglo.

    Blandine Boyer
    (auteur et styliste culinaire chez Marabout et Régal)

  • Vanilla prices went through the roof a couple of years ago because of a global harvesting crisis… Now the prices have settled down again… Thank goodness! Because it’s my favorite thing to use in baking!

  • debby

    I went to the vanilla harvest in Papantla, Mexico in March and brought back vanilla pods(beans). I put them in olive oil -3 beans in a pint bottle and let them sit for about a month. You won’t belive how good it is to use with vegetables. You can use it with anything but I like it with vegetables best.

  • I love vanilla and have been wanting to experiment using it in savoury dishes. I like Debby’s idea of putting the pods in oil.

  • Rachel

    That sounds lovely – but just one question. If I can’t find a potimarron, what, if anything, would you recommend substituting? Ordinary pumpkin? Kabocha? Something else?… Or perhaps I could just take my cue from the name and use pumpkin plus a couple of spoonfuls of creme de marron?

    (Hmmm, perhaps that last idea isn’t such a good one, given that whenever I get my hands on some confiture de marron I usually end up eating all of it straight out of the jar. *blush*)

  • paraks

    Just a question (sorry if its stupid), is it possible to freeze vanilla?
    The twenty pods are very tempting, but I can’t see myself using them up very quickly.

  • stéphanie

    Bon, c’est le drame, je n’ai pas pu résister à ta pub pour la vanille et je viens d’en commander 10 gousses ! c’est sûr, quand tu vois qu’au super tu en as 2 pour presque 5 euros… et encore, je ne sais même pas si elles sont bonnes, ces gousses.

    je ne sais pas si je dois te remercier ou te maudire jusqu’à la cinquième génération ! :)))))))))))

  • wendy Hutton

    As an antipodean (try using that word in your articles, Clothilde!), I’m a great fan of pumpkin/winter squash/poitirron. One of the nicest ways to cook it is to peel it, cut chunks about 2 cm thick, toss in extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and chopped fresh rosemary (it must be fresh) and roast it at around 200 C until golden on both sides. This takes around 40-45 minutes. The pumpkin starts to caramelise, is wonderfully sweet, tender and the fragrance of rosemary makes you swoon. Try it!

  • Mim

    I can’t wait to return home, order my vanille, and start baking again. I like the idea of vanille in huile and will try that, too. Merci, merci!

  • Apples and squash is a very interesting combination.

  • Amy – I bought this squash at my neighborhood produce stall, and I have seen them at the Batignolles market, too.

    Richard – Thanks for the recipe suggestion!

    Julie – It is recommended to keep vanilla beans in a glass jar in a cool, dark place. Their flavor weakens after a while, but the best by date on mine is May of 2007. And please note that I have updated the information: this company ships to the US now!

    Blandine – Merci pour votre message, je vais vous envoyer un petit mail!

    Debby – Infusing olive oil with vanilla is one of my plans! I took the advice from Pierre Hermé, who likes it drizzled over tomatoes…

    Rachel – If you can’t find Hokkaido squash, I would suggest substituting a small pumpkin (sweeter and less watery than large ones) or a butternut, delicata, or kabocha squash. Using crème de marron would be delicious too, but in that case you should omit the sugar.

    Paraks – I’ve never tried freezing vanilla beans, and would worry about the loss of flavor. But you can order as few as five from that store, if twenty sounds like too many for your needs. (Or you could to a joint order with friends, too.)

    Wendy – I love roasted winter squash, too, and I’ll give your rosemary version a try next time!

  • milo

    Enfin, comment gentil et fin…

  • Tim

    What a timely post! Just last week I had a recipe asking for burbon vanilla – I had no idea what it was! Now I do. Thank you so much.

  • shelli

    So it’s Hokkaido squash!! All these years of ordering the ubiquitous potage de potimarron every fall and I always assumed it was a variant of pumpkin that had a chestnut flavor.

    I’ll be roasting some soon, now that I’ve admitted it’s fall. Thanks Wendy!

  • Interesting! At the NY Fancy Food show, I had the chance to speak with some vanilla exporters. They said something similar – how the distributers have huge control over prices and make most of the $$$, leaving the growers very little. I’m glad there is a supplier that has broken through this entanglement!
    Thank you for this info.

  • Robin

    I love your comments….I am boycotting anything that isn’t fresh!

  • Si tu en as trop, je t’en achète volontiers 3 ou 4 !

  • Maman – Pour toi, un tarif encore plus phénoménal: zero euro les quatre gousses! :)

  • addie

    Did I understand Debby about a “Mexican”
    Vanilla (voted the best by many….)Festival???? And you brought back Mexican Vanilla Beans!!! Can you share any info on this festival and where to get the beans?? My beans idle about in a rather large bottle of vanilla extract until they are called to bloom. Passard’s Tomato confit is another great showcase for vanilla…

  • All this talk of vanilla makes me “Paris-sick” for the Maison de la Vanille. I searched the blog for any old references, because this seems the type of place you would love, but I could only find some posts from readers mentioning not being able to find it. Is it, in fact, closed? Does anyone know? Their “laits frappés” were SO good!

  • This is so exciting! I just bought 20 vanilla beans! I live in New York, and have yet to find any stores that carry vanilla that isn’t either desiccated or horrifyingly expensive. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all of them…

  • Bon… que vais-je faire avec 20 gousses de vanille? Mieux vaut sortir les livres de recettes et trouver des idees pour le temps des fetes!

    Merciiii pour le lien – j’ai hate de recevoir ma vanille! :)

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