Monthly Archives: June 2006


Cardamom Plum Cakes with Ginger Crema Sorbet

Makes 14 mini cakes (or 2 9-inch round cakes)

7 ounces unsalted butter plus extra for ramekins
8 ounces light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
A pinch of nutmeg, ginger, mace, and vanilla bean scrapings
14 fresh plums, halved

Cake Batter
4 ounces unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups light brown sugar
3 cups cake flour
1 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/8 cup whole milk
3/4 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter and whisk together with brown sugar then add spices and vanilla bean scrapings. Add plum halves and toss to coat well. Lightly butter 14 ramekins. Fill the bottom of each ramekin with plums (skin side down) and some of the sugar/butter/spice mixture.

To make cake batter: Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Combine milk and vanilla. Add dry and wet ingredients to butter/sugar mixture alternately mixing between additions, scraping the bottom of the bowl often. Divide evenly between the ramekins, filling only about 2/3 of the way.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert onto dessert plates and serve warm with Ginger Crema Sorbet.

Ginger Crema Sorbet

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups crema or crème fraiche
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons ginger juice (strained from grated ginger)

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until all sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

When syrup is cool, combine with the crema, lemon juice, and ginger juice. Adjust flavors as necessary. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow manufacture’s instructions. Caution: This sorbet can become over mixed quite quickly.


Pâte Sucrée

Makes two 9- or 10-inch tart shells plus a few cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

In an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and salt, and beat until combined. Add flour, all at once, and slowly mix just until flour is evenly moistened. Do not mix until a ball forms around beaters.

Transfer to a plastic bag and form dough into a 6-inch log. Seal bag, pressing out any air, and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours or as long as 4 days. (Well-wrapped Pâte Sucrée may be stored in the freezer a month.)

Divide log in half for one tart shell. To roll, soften dough by pressing it in your hands until malleable. Form a 4-inch round disk. On a lightly floured board, roll from center out, lifting dough, turning slightly, and occasionally flipping to prevent sticking. Flour board as necessary. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness.

To line a tart pan, fold dough in half and lift. Place in pan, unfold, and gently press it evenly into bottom and up sides of pan. Create a lip at top by pressing dough between flutes of pan with your fingers as you pinch dough off at the edge. Then for an even crust, roll a rolling pin across top. Dough scraps can be used to patch short edges or holes, or for cookies. Chill 1/2 hour before baking.

To bake empty tart shell, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 20 minutes for a fully baked shell or 15 minutes for a partially baked.


Plum Streusel Tart

Serves 8

Almond Cream
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup sliced, blanched almonds
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 recipe Pâte Sucrée (see recipe)
6 medium plums or pluots, cut in half and pits removed

To make almond cream: Process sugar and almonds in a food processor until fine. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, processing after each addition until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble. The almond cream may be made up to 4 days in advance.

To make streusel: Cream together sugar and butter until smooth. Add cinnamon and salt, and mix until blended. Add flour. Mix with your fingers just until crumbly. Reserve.

Roll out Pâte Sucrée and use to line a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Chill 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake empty tart shell 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread almond cream in hot tart shell. Bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Arrange plums, cut-side down, over baked almond cream. Sprinkle with streusel and bake 20 to 30 minutes, until plums are soft and crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool in pan.


Plum Pepper Pinot Chicken

Serves 4

4 boneless chicken breast halves, with skin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup chopped shallots or red onion
2 cups chopped plums or pluots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup pinot noir or other dry red wine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a wide sauté pan on the stovetop. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and sauté, starting with the skin side down, in olive oil until browned on both sides. Transfer chicken to an ovenproof dish and roast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked through.

While chicken is in the oven, return the sauté pan to the stovetop and add shallots. Sauté until golden brown. Add plums and sauté until they start to soften and brown. Add salt, cracked black pepper, and brown sugar and cook while stirring for a minute or two, until sugar is melted and bubbling. Add pinot noir and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the browned bits. Reduce by half until mixture becomes a chunky sauce.

Pull the roasted chicken out of the oven and place on plates. Add any remaining chicken juices to the sauce. Spoon sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

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