Monday, January 30, 2012

plum crazy

As much as I adore being on holiday, returning to work does bring some kind of routine and structure back into life.  Conversely, with less time, more seems to get done.  I will, of course, be eating these words in a few weeks when it all gets too much for me and when I will be longing for another holiday.

Last year around this time, my first blog post ever featured plum jam.  Once again, the two plum trees are laden with plump fruit and the annual plum and vanilla jam has been made and I have stewed plums, freezing them in servable sizes for later use.

Looking for other ideas for plums, I spied Toast’s blog post on plum and lemon cake (here). Hardly waiting for breath, I made it as soon as I jumped off the blog.  Something I hardly ever do.  It was oh so quick and easy and such a gorgeous result.

Then I had a disastrous attempt at a recipe for Plum Clafoutis where the batter separated and although it was edible, it didn’t look good, and I couldn’t face it, so it got binned.

But my overall favourite would have to be this plum and chocolate slice that I adapted from a cherry, cream cheese and chocolate slice by Genevieve McGough –  from Cuisine magazine November 2005.

Food pleasure for me is often in direct relation to the amount of fat and sugar contained therein, so I was not surprised at my choice.  However, I did baulk more than a little when I read:

300g dark chocolate
300g butter
365g sugar
250g cream cheese

Okay, I baulked a lot.  Post-Christmas, I am trying to return to eating as usual which, much as I’d like it, doesn’t involve desserts, continuous chocolate treats and give us our wine, our daily wine, so the mere scanning of my eyes over these three ingredients set off an alarm. 

So what’s a girl to do?  I compromised and halved the recipe. Me and halving recipes is a bad combination.  It goes something like this. 

Mistake No. 1 – Not thinking
I’ve already measured the plums working on a whole recipe

Mistake No. 2 – I don’t write it down
I start off efficiently calculating half of 300g, 250g, etc.  then…

Mistake No. 3 – I forget
So when I get to, in this case, the water, I’m gaily sploshing in the full amount, and just as the chocolate, butter and water overdose are melting, I remember and start spooning out what I fathom is half the water, which by now has butter merging into it.  Oh dear…

All I am saying is don’t be like me.  Use the full recipe, which I’ve given here, or know what you’re doing.  Fortunately it all turned out exceedingly well in the end.

The original recipe was for cherries, so use them if you prefer (250g cherries, stalks removed, stoned and halved).  As plums have larger stones than cherries, I reckoned on 400g plums (which, as I mentioned above was my calculation for the whole recipe).  If you’ve any plum syrup left over, use as an addition to a breakfast of muesli and yogurt, or porridge or add to baking such as muffins, etc. I can vouch for it being yum!

So, what was the slice like?  Well worth making. I expect my version was a bit fruitier than the original (remembering I had the full portion of fruit and half the batter!) and that may have affected the texture, which was lighter than I expected. I absolutely loved it though and so did everyone else.  It had a rich, chocolatey-mousse taste, with the moistness of sweetened, but still somewhat tart, jammy plums and velvety cream cheese - reminiscent of a raspberry brownie. 

Honestly, the photograph does not do it justice and I intend to make it again soon!  I might even try a version omitting the cream cheese just to taste what that’s like. (That will be the low-fat version then?)

Sadly, once I’ve exhausted all the plum recipes (and myself), the neighbouring plum tree ripens and is left sad, lonely and neglected.  Well not really, I will try to pass them around but you would not believe how many times bags of plums, ready to donate to friends, family and work colleagues have been left behind on the kitchen table!

Plum tree with most of the plums picked or eaten by birds

plum and chocolate slice

400g plums
1¾ cup (365g) caster sugar
185ml water
300g dark chocolate (I used Whittaker’s Dark Ghana 72% cocoa)
300g butter
5 eggs
1 ½ cups (210g) plain flour
250g cream cheese

Preheat oven to 150°C.

Grease a 32cm x 22 x 5 baking tin and line with baking paper.

Halve and quarter plums, removing stalk and stones.

Place 50g of the sugar and 85ml of the water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add the plums and simmer for 10 minutes.  Leave to cool.

Melt chocolate, butter and remaining water in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Stir to combine and leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs and remaining sugar on high speed in an electric mixer for about 10 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved.

Turn mixer to a slow speed and slowly pour in the chocolate mixture until is incorporated.  Switch off mixer, sift in flour and mix briefly with a wooden spoon until flour lumps are gone.

Pour batter into the prepared tin, dot with small blobs of cream cheese and the plums, then drizzle with a little of the plum syrup.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until mixture is cooked through and springs back when pressed lightly with your fingertips or until a skewer comes out with some of the mixture like wet crumbs rather than wet batter.

Leave to cool in the tin. 

Dust with icing sugar if you wish. Cut into squares.  Serve with yogurt or cream for dessert or with a cup of coffee or tea.

Adapted from a recipe by Genevieve McGough
Published in Cuisine magazine, November 2005


  1. OMG, Lelsey - I love the sounds of this - looks insanely good. I can imagine the cherries being great too, but lucky you having a plum tree. I'm waiting for my friends who have access to a damson tree to bring me damsons for some jams and puddings, and I'm thinking more gin too!

    Oh, and congratulations on your blogoversary :-)

    Sue xo

  2. There are some spectacular plums at the market these days, but all I think about doing with them is preserving -- jam or chutney. A plum and chocolate brownie is a really good idea. I'm inspired. Thank YOU.

  3. Thanks to the two Sue's! Highly recommended. I'm lucky to have two plum trees and now the nectarines are ripe and juicy too!

  4. Glad you liked the cake :) I think your version sounds just perfect and plum & chocolate how lovely together.