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.
My dear friend, Patti Wall, sent your blog to me this morning. I can tell you that I’m already loving your writing style, wit and passion for food! I’m salivating over your prune/orange/cardamom recipe as I sip my morning dose of Earl Grey tea.
I studied with Jacques Pepin in the 80’s. He taught me knife skills, technique and French cuisine. I’ve been cooking / entertaining all my life and would like to earn a living doing something that brings me joy.
Please add me to your list. I have a feeling your blog will inspire me to continue onward into the next exciting chapter of my journey!