About three years ago my wife came home with three fruit trees and gave me the look that means “the rest is up to you.” One was a peach tree, the second was a pear tree, and the third tree was a plum tree. I planted the peach and pear in the back and the plum tree on the side of the house. I am happy to report that today they are all healthy and growing. However, pear tree only produces one or two pears per “season” and those have split open before ripening. The peach tree has never produced a single fruit (though I check and re-check the tag every once in a while and it always says self-pollinating). The plum tree produced a handful of plums on each bloom for the first couple years, but this year, it went nuts. Or fruity, I guess.
My kids are eating a couple of plums a day picked right off the tree. They are juicy and delicious, and taste better than any you buy at the market. They are ripening faster than we can consume them, so that means it’s time to cook! Before I get into the details, I must mention that of the fifty cookbooks and hundreds of magazines we have, my favorite is the Italian tome known as “The Silver Spoon”. I highly recommend it, as it provides a base of knowledge in the form of countless fairly simple tried and true recipes that I am frequently inspired by. I love cooking with wine (in my hand as well as in the recipe), and Italians seem to agree. This recipe is inspired by that book.
You will need:
1 lb of fresh plums, pitted and quartered
About half a bottle of Port (or any sweet red wine you prefer)
1 cup of AP flour
5 egg yolks
Vanilla (1 tsp) + (1/2 tsp)
1 packet of gelatin
2 1/2 cups of coconut milk
Baker’s superfine sugar (3/4 cup) + (3/4 cup)
1 stick of sweet butter (1/4 cup) + extra, softened
Pinch of salt
Prepare the plums, put them in a bowl, and pour the port wine in until the plum slices are immersed. I use my Quiggle Vineyards 2010 Roy’s Red Port; that’s another post I’ve yet to write. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a medium sized tart pan. Set up a pan of simmering water. In a heatproof bowl, add ¾ cup of the baker’s sugar and the 5 eggs. Place the bowl over the water and cook, whisking until it doubles in volume. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 tsp of vanilla. Drop the softened stick of butter in the warm liquid and whisk in thoroughly. Whisk in a pinch of salt and then the cup of flour, a quarter at a time and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and cooled. Put the mixture into the prepared tart pan and spread evenly with deference to the outer edges of the pan. Bake for about 40 minutes.
While the pastry base is in the oven, make the custard by first heating the coconut milk and ½ tsp of vanilla to boiling, and then reduce the heat. In a separate bowl Mix 3/4 cup of the baker’s sugar with the 5 egg yolks until it is fluffy. Gradually add in the yolk-sugar mixture, continuously whisking. Add in the packet of gelatin. Cook until the mixture thickens. Do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.
When finished, place the pastry filled pan on a cooling rack. Drain the plums. Personally, I would not allow a good port to go to waste here. I drain it into a bowl, then pour it into a wine glass and chill it. It will go perfectly with the dessert. Place the more firm plum pieces standing up against the sides of the pan. Place the more mushy pieces on top of the pastry. Carefully pour in the room temperature custard mixture taking care not to knock over the painstakingly placed standing plums. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. This can be frozen as well. When ready to serve, carefully release and remove the tart pan. Top with a thick layer of whipped cream, slice and serve. Drink the special glass of port yourself; you deserve it for your efforts.