Scorning the table of drinks, glittering with crystal and silver on the right, he moved left towards that of the sweetmeats. Huge sorrel babas, Mont Blancs snowy with whipped cream, cakes speckled with white almonds and green pistachio nuts, hillocks of chocolate-covered pastry… a melody in major of crystallised cherries, acid notes of yellow pineapple, and green pistachio paste of those cakes called ‘Triumphs of Gluttony’.
The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
How could anyone resist a cake named ‘triumph of gluttony’ or a heap of cherries described as a ‘melody in major’? It was with thoughts of both triumph and melody that I whipped up my Plum Cream with Almonds and Amaretti. I’m still harvesting plums from the broken branches of my cracked and decimated plum tree and this triumphant melody uses up a whole 600g of them.
Grilling the plums first intensifies their flavour as if by magic. The amaretti biscuits add a perfect bitter-sweetness to the whole confection, while being a fitting tribute to Lampedusa’s Italian heritage. Plum Creams deserve a place on Lampedusa’s table, along with the hillocks of chocolate pastry, even if it’s only in the back row.
Plum creams with almonds and amaretti biscuits
Serves 4–6 depending on your level of gluttony
- 600g plums
- 100g vanilla sugar
- 250g mascarpone
- 100g creme fraiche
- Handful split almonds, toasted in a dry frying pan until golden
- 1 amaretti biscuit per serving
Split the plums in half, removing the stones. Place cut side up in a grill pan and sprinkle with the sugar. Toast for five minutes under a moderate grill until bubbling. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven for a further five minutes until slightly golden brown around the edges. Cool a little and then puree in a blender. Drip through a sieve into a bowl to remove any skin. Allow the puree to cool.
Once cool, mix the puree into the mascarpone. Use an electric mixer if you’re in a hurry. Stir in the creme fraiche. At this stage you may think it’s not quite sweet enough, but the amaretti biscuits bring more than enough extra sweetness to the party. Crumble an amaretti over each serving, along with a sprinkling of toasted almonds. Chill in the fridge for an hour or so.
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