I was sitting in the Glenlake Orchards farmhouse kitchen when owner Kevin Buis walked in with a basket full of yellow plums. “Make something good with them”, he said. So I took them home and put them on the counter. I had a pound cake in the refrigerator so I set out to make a sauce.
I put a little bit of honey and chopped up yellow plums in a saucepan thinking they would caramelize, but they just got soft and the honey didn’t change the incredibly sour flavour so I added a bit of sugar – they still made me pucker.
I took another look at the pile of yellow plums on my counter and wondered what the heck I was going to do with a fruit that cooks up like lemons.
Of course! I ran to my cookbooks and pulled out every recipe I could find for lemons and I began to cook. I started with lemon sorbet. Even though it had no milk or cream in it at all, once it turned in the ice cream maker, it came out creamy. I scooped it into some icewine glasses with a sprig of mint and used it as a palate cleanser between courses. It was really delicious.
I thought maybe adding a bit of creaminess to it would make a difference. So I cooked up a sauce with chopped up yellow plums, a handful of mint leaves, sugar and a bit of icewine. It cooked up beautifully tart but full and luscious at the same time. To add creaminess to it I whipped up some cream and when it was done, I added a bit of sugar and a few spoonfuls of ricotta cheese.
I took a tall champagne flute and put a spoonful of the ricotta cream and then a layer of minted yellow plum sauce. It was missing something so I took out some shortbread cookies and crumbled them up. I added a layer of shortbread cookies on top of the minted yellow plum sauce. Then I repeated the layering and the glasses looked beautiful. I topped it off with an extra spoonful of sauce, sliced yellow plums and a sprig of mint. It was a hit for dessert with layers of creamy sweet ricotta, crunchy, buttery cookies and rich, tart sauce. It’s a quick version of cheesecake!
But the last two recipes were really spectacular. I’ve always liked lemon squares but haven’t made them in years because I have too much local fruit to work with. So I whizzed up a yellow plum puree in the blender and used it in place of lemon juice in the recipe – it was spectacular! Not even my friends could believe they were not lemon squares!
But when I substituted the yellow plum puree for lemon juice in a lemon soufflé recipe it was to die for! Wow! I jumped in the car and took it over my friends. We sat around the kitchen table laughing with excitement and eating from the bowl until it was all gone – pure bliss this one was!
I’ve discovered another secret to yellow plums. That is they fall off the tree as soon as their ripe. Because of this, farmers tend to pick them green. The greener plums are perfect for squares and the soufflé, but if you leave them to ripen on the counter, they’ll soften and sweeten. Now they’re perfect for the ricotta cheesecake and sorbet.
Yellow Plum Squares
1 3/4 cups (430 mL) sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) cornstarch
2/3 cup (160 mL) icing sugar
1 cup (250 mL) cold butter, cubed
4 farm fresh eggs
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) yellow plum puree
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350F (175 C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch and icing sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Whisk together the sugar, baking powder and flour. Whisk the sugar mixture into the eggs. Finally, stir in the plum puree. Pour over the prepared crust and return to the oven. Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until bars are set. Allow to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar. Cut into bars and enjoy. Makes 24 squares.
Yellow Plum Soufflé
2/3 cup (160 mL) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons (45 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow plum puree
1 cup (250 mL) whole milk
1/8 teaspoon (.7 mL) cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350F (160C). In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Gradually stir in flour, alternating with the yellow plum puree and milk; stir until well blended. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar. Continue beating until the form soft peaks.
Fold egg whites gently into the plum mixture, just until incorporated throughout the batter. Pour into a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish. Set souffle dish in a larger pan with about 1-inch of hot water. Bake until top is set, about 35 to 45 minutes. Serve pudding hot with sauce. Serves 8.
Yellow Plum Curd
3/4 cup yellow plum puree
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
In a 2 quart saucepan, combine yellow plum puree, sugar, eggs, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat until thick enough to hold marks from the whisk, and the first bubble appears on the surface, about 6 minutes.
6 yellow plums, pitted and quartered
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 mL) honey
Add plums, sugar and honey to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until plums are soft. Set aside to cool. Puree in a blender. Makes 1 cup of puree.