Plums Star in a Delicious Fall Dessert

Although I have been filling my grocery cart with plenty of apples and pears—quintessential autumn staples– I’ve also purchased plenty of plums. I’ve bought these dark red to purple orbs to use in some of my favorite seasonal desserts. They are excellent in an apple and plum crisp  featured here on this blog in years past. And, I particularly like the following recipe for warm spiced plums topped with softly whipped cream, scented with honey.

Simple and delicious, these spiced plums take 30 minutes or less to prepare. You cut the plums into wedges and then sauté them until tender with sugar scented with orange peel. As they cook the sugar forms a shiny glaze that coats the wedges. Cream whipped with honey and also with an addition of crème fraîche, makes a perfect garnish to the warm fruit.

Ideally, the plums for this recipe should be ripe but not mushy. However, even less ripe plums will work. I like to serve the plums in old fashioned glasses, but wide-mouth wine glasses, ramekins, or dessert bowls work too.

So, for those cool, crisp autumn days ahead, keep in mind this delectable treat as a sweet ending for brunch, lunch, or supper!




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Warm Spiced Plums with Honey Whipped Cream

2 pounds ripe, large dark red or purple plums
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Generous 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Honey Whipped Cream (Recipe follows.)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (See cooking tip.)
Mint sprigs for garnish 

1.Rinse and dry the plums, and then halve them lengthwise. Remove and discard the pits and any tough flesh around them. Cut halves into 3/4 -inch wedges. (If plums are not ripe enough, you may have trouble separating them into halves. In this case, simply cut 3/4-inch wedges from the plums with a sharp knife.)

2.In a small bowl combine the sugar and orange zest and use your fingers to rub the orange zest into the sugar. Mixture will turn a light orange color.

3.Place a large (10 1/2- to 11-inch) skillet (cast iron works well) over medium high heat for a few seconds. Add plums and sprinkle with orange-scented sugar mixture. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves and forms a glaze and plums are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 6 to 10 minutes. Cooking time can vary depending on ripeness of the plums. Do not overcook, or plums will become mushy.

4.Remove from heat and stir in the cardamom. Taste plums and if you prefer a sweeter taste, stir in a teaspoon of extra sugar. (Plums can be prepared 3 hours ahead and left in the skillet. Cool, cover loosely with foil, and leave at cool room temperature. Reheat, stirring, over medium heat before serving.)

5.To serve, spoon plums into 4 to 6 old fashion glasses, wine glasses, or ramekins. Top with dollops of Honey Whipped Cream and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Garnish with mint springs. Serves 4 with larger portions and 6 with slightly smaller ones.

Cooking tip: To toast almonds, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a preheated 350° F oven until lightly browned, 5 to 7minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and cool.

Honey Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream

1.With an electric mixer on high speed, whip cream until soft peaks form. Reduce speed and drizzle honey into whipped cream. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Using a wire whisk fold in the crème fraîche. This will deflate the stiffly whipped cream slightly giving it a yogurt-like consistency. (Cream can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Whisk gently before using.)

Adapted from a recipe in American Favorites by Betty Rosbottom (Houghton Mifflin 1996)

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