What to do with a plethora of plums?
And a plethora of plums that won’t stop coming.
Most of the time it’s zucchini or eggplant people complain about when they have a CSA.
We thought a fruit share sounded like a good idea, but knew eight pounds of fruit a week would be too much so decided to share it with friends.
But this one does.
Billed as the most requested recipe from the NY Times, they refer to it as a Plum Torte, but it’s more like a cake (IMHO).
Plum Cake Recipe
- ¾ to 1 cup sugar (depending on your sweetness tolerance and the sweetness of your plums)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 24 halves pitted purple plums
- Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping
Heat oven to 350°.
In a mixer, cream the sugar and butter.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
Spoon the batter into a 9” spring-form pan. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter.
Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit.
Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.
Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Moist and buttery – well there was a stick of butter…
Make sure to add the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon to top it off. Just go easy on the cinnamon unless you’re a big fan (I’ve learned the hard way that a little cinnamon goes a long way!).
The plums give a nice tartness to what is a rich treat, but as the Times says, you can use almost anything; I’m going to do it with peaches and then maybe apples.
While it’s a great dessert, it’s also a pretty fine breakfast!
My only issue was that my (cheap)spring-form pan leaked and I ended up putting a parchment-lined baking sheet under it to catch the drips. Not sure you need a spring-form, just butter any sort of cake pan (or buy a better spring-form).
The paper of record says you can freeze it, and to serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300°.
Do you have recipes that you’ve used a lot in the past and then somehow they get lost in the shuffle?
For the Accidental Locavore, it’s often a combo of the thrill of the new along with some old favorites that push the good-but-not-part-of-the-repertoire aside. This is one of them and serves 4:
- 4 large peaches, unpeeled
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- Water as needed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Cut the peaches in half and pit them, set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed pan, add sugar, corn syrup and just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Cook until sugar caramelizes and becomes a deep amber color. Keep an eye on it as it can go from good to burnt in an instant.
Add the chilled butter, a few small pieces at a time, whisking constantly until all the butter is emulsified into the caramel.
Place the peaches, cut side down, in one layer in the pot with the caramel. Cover pot with foil and roast for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes. Serve with your favorite ice cream and enjoy!
My verdict: I’d forgotten how good this was! As much as the Accidental Locavore loves biting into a perfect peach, there’s something about cooking them that’s equally wonderful.
While this is a great go-to recipe for less-than-perfect peaches, it works even better with ripe ones, and if you can get freestone peaches, it’s a huge help.
I did this as my version of peach shortcake with buttermilk biscuits and vanilla ice cream (homemade) but you really don’t need the biscuits, it’s wonderful just with ice cream.
I have an idea about putting the pot on the side of a hot grill instead of in the oven…for that touch of smoke and so I’m not heating up the kitchen, but haven’t tried it yet. What do you think?
These were the criteria: I needed a dessert for a dinner party, it needed to travel well and since the hostess is another foodie, the dessert needed to be pretty damn good. After spending a lot of time with Made in India, the Accidental Locavore decided to go back to another favorite, David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. Since he’s such a dessert guy, he had to have something that would impress 6 people:
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 4 large eggs, separated
- ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel or Malden
Spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of a wide sauce pan. Heat the sugar over medium heat. As it begins to liquefy at the edges, with a heatproof spatula (thank you, GIR), very gently drag the liquefied sugar towards the center. Watch carefully as once the edges start to darken, the sugar is in danger of burning. Continue to cook, stirring gently until all the sugar is melted and begins to caramelize.
When the sugar is a deep amber color and starts to smoke, remove it from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter, stirring until it is melted. Gradually whisk in the cream and stir until the little bits of caramel are completely melted. I find it helps to warm the cream before you add it in.
Once smooth, add the chocolate, stirring gently until it’s melted and smooth. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Once it’s no longer warm, whisk in the egg yolks.
In a separate large bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold 1/3 of the mixture into the chocolate and sprinkle in the salt. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until no streaks of white remain.
Divide the mousse into serving glasses or a serving bowl and chill for at least 8 hours. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Who knew 6 ingredients could be so delicious? I had eaten these before when David was cooking at DeGustibus, but somehow (sorry David) these tasted better. Somewhere in the process, it occurred to me that they needed a little something crunchy (probably too much time spent in Nice eating chocolate desserts) so I made some tuiles to go with them and it was the perfect touch. That recipe will go up next week, so stay tuned. Be careful making the (any) caramel, it’s a mere moment in time between beautiful and burnt. Gently warming the cream makes it much easier as the caramel doesn’t harden and take forever to combine with the cream.
And the reaction at the dinner? One of the guests asked if he could lick his dish!
Usually the Accidental Locavore likes chocolate straight up – with no additions of coffee or chipotle or whatever getting in the way of pure chocolate happiness. However, when I saw this recipe from David Lebovitz (and happened to have all the ingredients) and needed to bring brownies to dinner with friends, it was time to break out of my pure chocolate comfort zone.
For the brownies:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
For the cheesecake topping:
- 8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with foil, making sure it goes up all four sides. Use two sheets if necessary. Mist with non-stick spray or grease lightly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the brownie batter, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, in a medium saucepan (not non-stick) stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in the 2/3 cup sugar, then the eggs.
Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then the vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
For the cheesecake topping, in a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the yolk, 5 tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
Distribute the cream cheese mixture in eight dollops across the top of the brownie mixture, then take a dull knife or spatula and swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter. Rap the pan on a countertop a few times to let the batter and swirl settle together.
Bake until the batter in the center of the pan feels just set, 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cool, then lift the brownies out holding the foil and peel it away. Cut the brownies into squares. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: If you only made the brownie part, you’d still have a great brownie! Adding the cheesecake topping just took them to a whole other level. While I wouldn’t want these every day, they were a delicious change from the ongoing brownie mix competition we’ve been having with our friends. Don’t let the cheesecake part scare you away from making these, it comes together easily and getting the swirl part is half the fun. I’m not sure how necessary lining the pan with foil is, since I’ve been using a silicon brownie pan, which because of its flexibility, makes popping the contents out really easy. Next time, I’m going sans foil.
Figuring you might be looking for an easy dessert for the holidays, the Accidental Locavore would like to propose this old favorite. It’s a really easy, incredibly good, molten chocolate cake recipe. I originally saw it done on Martha Stewart years ago, and have been making it ever since to rave reviews. I usually make them before guests come, and keep them in a cool place until ready to bake. Make sure you use the best chocolate you can find. The other secret is to use small metal brioche tins (and if you can find the non-stick ones even better!), they cook much quicker than ceramic ramekins. Makes 4 individual cakes (but the recipe can easily be doubled). It’s great served with good vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries. This is adapted from Martha Stewart, and John Georges Vongerichten.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for molds
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting molds
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
- 2 large whole eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together eggs, yolks, and sugar until light and thick. Add melted chocolate mixture, and beat to combine. Quickly beat in flour until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the molds. If you’re making these ahead of time, set aside in a cool place until ready to cook (usually right after you’ve cleared the table).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place filled molds on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the sides have set but the centers remain soft, 6 to 7 minutes.
Invert each mold onto a plate, and let rest 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- 2-3 bags of peppermint candies (depending on the size you want)
- Any kind of cake pan or muffin tins
- Parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 350°. I don’t know how convection would work for this, so if you can, use the regular setting. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of your pan. Unwrap the candies and place in the pan, leaving about ¼” space between them.
Carefully put in the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, until they are melted together and have formed a flat surface. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This was so simple and really cool-looking – don’t you think? Surprisingly, the hardest part was tracking down the candy. We got lucky because the ones we used didn’t have the traditional twisted wrappers, so we could just cut them which made the whole process so much faster. The original recipe called for using a springform pan to make a big platter. I used two 6” cake pans to see what individual ones might look like. The reason you don’t see the second one in the photos was because I tried to get creative and drape it over a bowl (for obvious reasons), but it was too hot and along with almost burning myself, it stuck to everything except the bowl. I still think if you could get them at just the right temperature you could mold them. The other idea we had was to twist a piece of parchment into a rope and use it around the edge to maybe make it more bowl-like. It’s a fun idea for a dessert plate for anything (like ice cream, brownies, etc.) that would benefit from a little peppermint crunch. I think it would also work with other hard candies and even lifesavers, but then I’m not so sure what I would serve with it. Any ideas?
You might have thought that the Accidental Locavore would have made her first batch of madeleines ages ago, but you would have been wrong. While I love eating them (especially at Café les Baux) it just never occurred to me to make them myself. I have this prejudice against single-use cookware and if there was ever a single-use item, it’s a madeline pan. However, I capitulated and bought one and finally tried it out the other day (on a very tough crowd). This is from Food and Wine via Daniel Boulud and made about 15 large ones:
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon or orange zest
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted, warm
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- Powdered sugar and or melted semi-sweet chocolate for dipping
Whisk eggs, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, honey and lemon zest in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients until just incorporated, then whisk in melted butter until smooth. Transfer batter to a pastry bag or Ziplock bag and chill at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly coat madeleine pans with nonstick vegetable oil spray and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Snip end off pastry bag (or 1 corner of resealable bag) and pipe batter into each mold, filling two-thirds full (you may have a little batter left over).
Bake madeleines until edges are golden brown and centers are puffed and lightly spring back when gently pressed, about 5 minutes for mini and 8−10 minutes for regular cakes. Dust with powdered sugar, if you’d like, and serve warm with the chocolate sauce for dipping and enjoy!
My verdict: Definitely going on the dessert roster and I may even buy another pan! These were soft, golden and delicious, but somehow lacked the nice crunchy edges that the ones at les Baux have. I’m not sure if it’s a size thing, or just a matter of the recipe (more butter??). They were gone in a matter of minutes (and as I said in the intro, it was a tough crowd!). For the chocolate dipping sauce, I just took a small handful of chocolate chips and melted them in 30 second increments in the microwave. I thought about adding a little butter or heavy cream or even liqueur to it, but was feeling lazy (and no one complained). Ice cream, fresh berries would all be nice with them, but they’re good enough to stand on their own. The pan I bought was a silicone one and it was great. Nothing stuck and it went into the dishwasher and came out spotless. I may even let another one that makes smaller madeleine’s take up room in my kitchen.
While the Accidental Locavore isn’t usually much of a baker (no patience for following directions), occasionally one needs to come up with a dessert, especially around the holidays. I saw this from Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Baking Chez Moi and thought it looked like something I could do. This isn’t difficult, you just have to be careful with the caramel and pull it off the heat when it starts to get golden. Makes a 9” tart.
For the pastry:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 large egg yolk
For the filling:
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large egg yolks
For the pastry: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the size of small peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse in 10-second increments until incorporated (about 4 long pulses). Transfer the pastry to a sheet of parchment paper, pat it into a disk and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Roll out the pastry to a 12” round. Slide the whole thing onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Remove from the refrigerator and let the pastry stand at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften. Discard the top sheet of parchment paper and invert the pastry into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; fit the pastry into the pan and trim the overhang. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is set and lightly browned at the edge. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake the pastry for 5 minutes more, until lightly browned on the bottom. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°.
For the filling: In a microwave-safe small bowl, microwave the chocolate in 30-second bursts, just until melted. Let cool slightly. Pour the melted chocolate into the baked tart shell, spreading it evenly over the bottom and set aside.
In a small skillet, stir 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar with the lemon juice and ¼ cup of water over moderately high heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture starts to color, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until a lightly golden caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Stir in the cream and salt then let the caramel cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar until smooth. Slowly stir the caramel into the egg yolk mixture then pour the custard evenly over the chocolate in the tart shell. Transfer the tart to a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is still slightly wobbly in the middle. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until set and thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Unmold, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Cream, chocolate, caramel, butter, what’s not to like? Although this takes a bit of time, it’s definitely worth it! Be sure to have the cream at room temperature (or even a little warm) as it will harden the caramel if it’s too cold. That’s really the only tricky part. The crust is a good one and would go well with other fillings. If you don’t have pie weights or beans, small dried pasta (like macaroni) works well. I garnished my tart with a little shaved chocolate, but if you needed to be trendy, you could sprinkle a little Maldon salt on top.
It’s a holiday tradition for the Accidental Locavore and her friend Laura to get together and make edible gifts. We always try something new and alternate between savory and sweet. Just as traditionally, every year Laura’s father asks us why we’re not making biscotti again. This year, with some of our leftover ingredients, I made him a batch based on a Martha Stewart recipe. They’re pretty simple and just need some time to bake and cool. This made about 30 cookies:
- 1 3/4 cups dried cherries
- 1/2 cup Amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur), plus more if needed
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 ounces dark chocolate (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Heat cherries and liqueur in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until cherries have softened, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid. If you need more add enough liqueur to make 2 tablespoons.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the 3 eggs, one at a time. Add reserved cherry liquid and the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture. Stir in cherries and pine nuts.
On a lightly- floured surface, divide the dough in two. Shape each half into a 12 1/2 by 2 ½” log. Flatten logs to 1/2“ thick. Transfer to the baking sheet.
Bake 35 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks to cool, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Cut each log on the diagonal into 1/2″ slices. Transfer pieces to racks, laying them on their sides. Set racks on baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes; flip them and bake 8 minutes more. Let cool until crisp.
Optional chocolate: melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (30 second intervals). Paint a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of the biscotti, or just dunk them in and coat one side. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: I’m not a dunker of things into coffee or tea–something about crumbs at the bottom of the cup never appealed to me, so there are a lot of cookies I prefer to biscotti. These came out fine and Frank, the biscotti lover in the family, thought they tasted great (and would I please make another batch). We’ll have to wait till after the holidays to see what Laura’s father thought of them. I substituted pine nuts for the almonds Martha called for, but did soak the cherries in Amaretto. Dried cranberries would also work instead of the cherries.
As part of all my Thanksgiving prep, the Accidental Locavore had bits and pieces of a lot of leftover food. With all good intentions, I saved most of them, hoping to re-purpose later. Perusing through Saveur, this simple cookie recipe, with only five ingredients, would put the egg whites I saved to good use. It makes about 2 dozen cookies, and as long as you have some sort of electric mixer, is quick and easy.
- 4 egg whites (from large eggs)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 3 cups cornflakes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 300°. Line two baking sheets with parchment (or a Silpat). Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites while slowly adding the sugar. Continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (you should be able to remove the beaters and the peaks stay up-no Viagra needed). Fold in the chocolate, cornflakes and vanilla.
Drop tablespoon-sized amounts of batter about 1″ apart on the baking sheets.
Bake until crisp and just slightly golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: My first attempt at meringue and they were delicious! I forgot how much I like it, and learned that Frank isn’t a big fan (oh well, more for me). The cornflakes were an interesting touch, but the next time I make them, I might try using Rice Krispies for a more subtle crunch, or possibly break up the cornflakes just a little. I baked these using the convection setting on my oven to make sure they would dry out properly. I also used parchment instead of the Silpat, because it’s less to wash (and I forgot about the Silpats until I started writing this). If you’re storing them, put them in a paper bag or leave them out. Plastic bags will make them soggy and sticky. Now that I’ve done my first meringues, could a bûche de Noël be the next big baking project? Stay tuned.