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.
I am always attracted to names, and that would have me reaching for a Triumph of Gluttony too…..I LOVE your plum creams,I am a lover of all things cream and fruity!Karen
It's such a great phrase, Karen – irresistibleCharlie
This sounds simple and yet so decadent! Lately I've been tossing all fruit into the oven for a bit before incorporating into recipes. It's incredible how even a half hour can caramelize the sugars and concentrate the flavors of anything from a tomato to a plum. Layered into a pretty glass, this recipe sounds like a triumph indeed. And now I have to track down "The Leopard" as I like how this Giuseppe thinks.
You're right Anna – it makes such an incredible difference. It doesn't change the flavour so much as make it taste just much more intensely of itself…
These look absolutely heavenly. I love the plum amaretti combination. Perfect!
Hi Lora It's always a treat to receive comments – thank you very much. Charlie
I'm part of a book club where we try to theme the food at the discussion with the book. The food in the Leopard is so vivid and my friend recreated the pasta pie – which when the knife broke through the crust revealed many ingredients including… masses of piping hot, glistening macaroni, to which the meat juice gave an exquisite hue of suede. Who wouldn't enjoy that? Your post brought back happy memories – love the pictures too.
Hue of suede? At first I thought you meant swede, but thinking about it suede is probably more appetising as a macaroni shade. How fantastic! And what an excellent sounding book club you belong to, Sally.
yum, I'm in awe of your France photos too, they are really beautifulThis looks great, any recipes for apples and pears on the way? I've got big bags of both from a generous friend
As a matter of fact, I do! I'm about to recreate a recipe I ate as a child involving pears. In my memory it was divine – I do hope I'm right.I'm so glad you enjoyed the French pictures too.
Ah, so romantic! Yes, one must love any dessert with such poetic names and your photos and styling have captured the spirit beautifully. I have been meaning to make peaches baked with amaretti but how I love your plum creation. I do need to bake. Lovely!
I had Madame Bovary's wedding feast in mind, for some reason. Not sure why since the inspiration was Italian x
Another terrific blog, lovely colours.
Thanks Jakey -very kind.
These sound wonderful – I must try them over the weekend. Surprisingly, I was just thinking of Amaretto having just read A Trifle Rushed's most recent blog post for making an affogato with a drop of whisky – I was thinking a drop of Amaretto would be nice in place of the whisky. I then read your blog and there was the word Amaretti!!
Hi JenniferIt's funny how that happens, isn't it? Do let me know if you try these. Charlie