Stewed plums in a tasty and decadent sweet dish.
In September the plum tree by the veg patch hangs heavy with fruit, its branches laden like a strained washing line on the brink of collapse. How this small tree produces such bountiful abundance each year bemuses me; often a branch or two fracture under the weight of fruit. We pick them by the basket, teetering on a rickety ladder and battling the wasps, to make jams, gins, chutneys and all sorts.
This recipe is a particular favourite that is just as good for breakfast as it is after a sunny September lunch. I got the idea for the yoghurt folded with whipped cream and honey from the pastry chef Nicola Lamb – it’s a wonderful twist that gives it a lighter and more elegant touch, but I often use labneh instead.
- 80g quality granola or pistachios
- 30g butter
- 6–10 plums, depending on size, halved and destoned
- 20g golden caster sugar
- 60ml Madeira, brandy or sweet sherry
- 280ml double cream
- 1–2 tbsp runny honey
- 350ml natural yoghurt
- a couple of sprigs of freshmint
- Preheat your oven to 160°C fan. If using pistachios, pour them into a tray or ovenproof pan and cook for about 10–15 minutes max, until they are toasted and crunchy but not burnt. Set a timer – I always forget.
- Put a wide frying pan on a medium-high heat and add the butter. When it begins to foam, swirl it around, then add the plums, cut side down. Ideally, they should fill the pan. Sprinkle over the sugar and let it gently sizzle so that the plums release their juice, then pour in the Madeira. A lovely thick and unctuous sauce should slowly be created. Before the plums get too soft, turn them over to cook the other side.The ideal is to end up with a beautiful sauce and plums that still hold their shape but are soft and delicious. So don’t cook them for too long, and add a splash of water if the sauce gets too thick. You need enough for each person to get a spoonful.
- While the plums are cooking, pour the cream into a large bowl. Whip it until it is light and voluptuous but still has a nice movement to it. Whipping cream perfectly is an art, taking it far enough to create that luxurious feel, but not so far that it begins to solidify. When ready, drizzle in 1 tablespoon of honey and add the yoghurt. Gently fold together and have a taste; you can add a touch more honey if you like, but don’t overdo it.
- Finally, crush the toasted pistachios, if using, and roughly chop the mint leaves. Spoon a generous dollop of the cream into a bowl and make a crater in the middle. Add two or three warm plum halves and a spoon of the sauce, then top with the granola or pistachios and mint.
- You can make a lot of this ahead; just slightly underdo the plums so that you can warm them up again without overcooking them. But the active ingredients in the yoghurt will begin to work on the cream if left too long, so I would recommend making that more or less in the moment.
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