Peach Apricot Compote with Red Poppy Cream Recipe

I seem to have a particular fondness for the red poppy, its fragile fluttering silhouette and its thread-thin stem, too thin, it seems, to support its flamboyant scarlet petals and contrasting black heart.

I like that it is easily spotted from afar — in the middle of a field, on the banks of a country road or in the most unsuspected places amidst city landscapes — and I like that it is a flower best left unplucked. As tempting as it is to tuck one behind your ear, it will wither away so fast you will feel sorry you did.

Thankfully, there is an alternative way to enjoy red poppies, and it is red poppy syrup.

Flower syrups — lavender, geranium, rose, cornflower, mimosa, violet, dandelion — seem to be a current hype on the French gourmet food market, surfing the wave of the old-fashioned and the quirky, in the aftermath of the whole “cooking with flowers” craze. And these syrups, if used with care and a very light-handed touch, can bring an interesting depth of flavor (and color!) to cocktails, desserts and even savory dishes.

My bottle of sirop de coquelicot I acquired from Izraël, a small store in the Marais that sells a miscellany of spices and cool food products from all over the world.

The syrup is produced in Nemours, a city to the South-East of Paris, where they’ve had a specialty of bonbons au coquelicot (red poppy candy) since the 1870’s. Ten years ago, a
chocolate maker from that city decided to widen the range of poppy-based products and added a vinegar, a jelly, a liqueur and a syrup.

While the scent of red poppy syrup straight from the bottle is vaguely reminiscent of cough syrup (red poppy is an age-old soothing remedy, for sore throats in particular), it takes on a delightful acidulated sweetness when diluted, and its flavor could be likened to a subtle mix of strawberry, cherry and pomegrenate.

This particular dessert I made just a few nights ago to bring to my sister’s apartment, as I was joining her and her boyfriend for a fun and highly relaxing session of Top Model 2005 watching (the French rendition of America’s Next Top Model), complete with take-out sushi and catty comments.

The compote, served with ladyfingers to soak up the creamy juices, was deemed “délicieuse!” by my kind hosts. The hint of red poppy, lending the cream a lovely pink shade, also does an excellent job at bringing out (without overwhelming them) the sweet and tart flavors of the softened peaches and apricots.

I have been reinvited for the next episode on Tuesday.

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Peach Apricot Compote with Red Poppy Cream Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves 6.

Peach Apricot Compote with Red Poppy Cream Recipe


  • 6 ripe peaches, stoned and sliced
  • 6 ripe apricots, stoned and sliced
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons red poppy syrup (sirop de coquelicot; see substitution note)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
  2. Place the fruit in a single layer in a baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the cream and the syrup.
  4. Pour over the fruit, and insert the dish into the oven to bake for 15 minutes, until the fruit is cooked through.
  5. Allow to cool, and serve with slices of sponge cake or ladyfingers.


If you are unable to find red poppy syrup, you can experiment with other flower or berry syrups, or simply substitute maple syrup.

This post was first published in August 2005 and updated in July 2016.

  • Sonia

    Top Model… Is it the Bold and the Beautiful you are talking about ? Your compote seems delicious and I am going to try it today.

  • Bettina

    That sounds wonderful! But I was wondering for the lazier cooks among us who don’t even OWN an oven to make this recipe (me!), what else can one do with these syrups? Cocktails? Just add and stir? But how about savory dishes? Please do tell…

  • Hmmm
    It probably contains opium which is a cough suppressant which is why they used it in cough syrups! (which is why you take codeine if you have a cough ;) ) So be carefully about company sponsored drug tests!

  • My, my! Thank you so much! I have a few friends coming over to knit next week, and I wanted a light dessert. They’re Southern sisters, who wanted to bring homemade Peach Cobbler, lord, which is so heavy in this heat. How do they do it? It’s 96º here.

    The idea of red poppy syrup may scare them ’cause of the opium (would you believe it? But, this IS America), so I’ll use Strawberry.

    I hope they like it. If not, this dessert will keep ME and
    Mr. K cool.

  • Andrea

    Have you stopped the moblog? I really enjoy the glimpses of life in Paris it provides (and whever you happen to be). Hope you bring it back. Even if you don’t I still love your blog.

  • Kelly

    Clotilde – I’m shocked! SURELY you don’t consider zucchini blossoms to be part of a “craze” in cooking??!!!

  • Sonia – Top Model 2005 is a sort of country wide audition to find the next French super model…

    Bettina – For cocktails, you can mix the syrups with sparkling water, white wine, vodka… As for savory dishes, I’m thinking some of them could work in a sauce for duck magret for instance. Still need to experiment!

    Andrea – Nope, the moblog is still there! You can access it through the links in the upper right-hand corner.

    Kelly – I wasn’t referring to zucchini flowers, no, but rather to the fact that many trendy French restaurants featured dishes with various edible flowers in them last year. There were quite a few articles in cooking magazines too. This trend seems to have died down a bit.

  • I am beyond excited about red poppy syrup! Poppies are my favorite flower, and this sounds like a dream ingredient. Can you tell me if the bottle has a website on it, or at least the name of the manufacturer? I would love to find some in the US (or, L.A. to be exact)


  • I wonder whether grenadine (pomegranate syrup) might be worth trying as a substitute for poppy syrup, which is very difficult to find here in Atlanta.

    Fine points. The recipe looks wonderful!

  • Rachael – The maker of my syrup is the Chocolaterie des Lis — info at the end of the post. I don’t know if they ship overseas, but it’s worth sending them an email. I have also found it sold (though it’s not the same brand so I haven’t taste-tested that one for you!) on this online store (which I don’t know anything about I should add). Good luck, and if worse comes to worse, you’ll just have to come to Paris to buy some! :)

    Elisson – I think pomegranate syrup would be just perfect, probably the closest substitute. Hope you like it!

  • Karen


    Tis recipe does look lovely. I understand your reservations regarding (overly)perfumy foods, but many herbs do have that perfumy sensation. I’m thinking of lavender in an herbes de Provence mix for chicken, or roses in ras al hanout for a tagine, or rosemary in almost anything…
    ANYWAY. This message is not about being argumentative, or about one-upswomanship. I just want to sing the praises of rose-scented geraniums. They are wonderful flavoring (and scenting) a gratin with raspberries, or in a sorbet, or icecream. I haven’t tried making them into a syrup yet. Are you familiar with the Herbfarm near Seattle? I hope so. Their cookbook has such wonderful ideas for cooking with herbs. Perhaps it would inspire Maxence even more?


  • It looks lovely, but do you really throw the apricot pits away? The seeds are so tasty! In Central Asia, they roast and salt them to sell at the bazar and they are possibly the most addictive nut there after pistachios.

    I haven’t bought any apricots this season because the supermarket I go to doesn’t have very good ones, but I do miss the seeds!

  • shayan

    i avid about that

  • Kathy

    For everyone (esp. in U.S.) looking for red poppy syrup alternatives, I’ve found several delicious-sounding ones on They carry a cinnamon pear, Amarena cherry, grape must, organic apple, and fig syrup. I can’t wait to try one of them using Clotilde’s recipe.

  • adelina

    Thanks for that lovely personal description about poppy. I have always loved poppy but never had found anyone could write such lovely things about poppy like yourself!

  • shawn

    Fascinating as always Clotilde.

    Perhaps you could mention your ideas for *making* a syrup? I use lavender for grilling lamb and I’ve had it cooked with some desserts, just wondering if you had any tips for perhaps making my own lavender syrup. I suppose I could just infuse lavender into simple corn syrup.

    Thanks again!

    • Deb W

      Shawn, Please no! Tell me you meant to infuse simple syrup plain (water and sugar reduced), not corn syrup?

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