I thought winter was over; yesterday was 70F and sunny but today we have gale-force winds, horizontal blowing snow, thunder and lightning. That’s springtime in the Rockies for you.
This fragrant, fruity-spicy dessert is easy to make, rich tasting and perfect for blustery days – or any day, come to think of it.
That’s because it contains prunes.
If you’re tempted to stop reading at this point I implore you to continue; we Europeans understand how deliciously versatile prunes are because we don’t only associate them with our digestive health.
For instance, cognac-soaked prunes make an incredible filling for chocolate truffles (wait until next Thanksgiving/Christmas for that one) – and they have a great affinity for things as diverse as claret, amaretto, dried apricots and figs, marzipan, black tea, fresh oranges, ginger, apple juice and bacon. Rabbit with red wine and prunes is a wonderful French classic and it works very well with chicken if the idea of eating rabbit makes you weep.
Back to this recipe; there’s a particularly profound alchemy that occurs between prunes and black tea such as Earl Grey; something to do with the tannin in the tea. The end result is deliciously fragrant and will open your mind when it comes to the humble dried plum.
A final note – if you can find those orange-infused pitted prunes, they’re fabulous in this recipe but aren’t absolutely necessary.
PRUNES and FRESH ORANGES in CARDAMOM TEA SYRUP
4 smooth-skinned navel oranges
2 Earl Grey teabags
8 whole cardamom pods – cracked open a bit to expose the seeds
3oz / 75g of fine granulated white sugar
A dozen soft pitted prunes
Thinly strip the zest from one orange (avoiding white pith) with a potato peeler and add to the teabags in a measuring pitcher or ceramic bowl.
Pour over 18fl oz / 500ml of boiling water, infuse for 5 mins then remove the tea bags.
Add the cardamom pods to the tea along with the sugar. Stir and allow the sugar to dissolve.
Transfer to a small saucepan; bring to a boil and reduce by approx 1/3.
Put the prunes in a glass or ceramic dish and pour the hot tea syrup over them – cool and remove the orange zest.
Over a plate to catch the juices, cut the skin off the oranges starting with a slice off both ends – then with it standing on one end, slice off the skin and pith downwards in sections; cut off any remaining white bits then discard the skin and pith. Slice the oranges about ½ thick and add with accumulated juices to the prunes.
Allow it to sit covered for 2 – 24 hours at room temp – any longer and it needs to be refrigerated. Bring it back to room temp before serving on its own or over vanilla ice cream.