- Food and Cooking
Grilled Fruit 9 - Plums (Obscene)
So luscious they're practically X-rated
When you think of grilling something in the back yard, admittedly plums do not come immediately to mind. Even if your thoughts have turned to that rarefied but highly rewarding subsection of the grilling arts that deal with fruit, plums are not front and center.
They should be, however, and we will show why here. Then we will combine the grilled plums with chocolate in a way that is so sinfully delicious, it is practically . .. obscene. This will make a magical dessert. Nothing up our sleeves, ladies and gentlemen, presto chango -- we will produce magic.
The whole thing starts out with store-bought plums like these. These have been kept in a bag for five days, but they are still perhaps a bit too hard. Grilling will soften them up perfectly,however. The whole thing is easy -- cutting them in half and removing the stone so that they can go on the grill is the hard part.
Despite this difficulty, we intend to press on, however.
Like every other fruit in the market, under-ripe plums are practically the only type available. Accordingly, these were purchased, then kept in a bag for five days to soften them up a bit.
However, they still are not so ripe that the stone falls away from the flesh when the plums are halved. This is significant. This presents a small dilemma -- dig the stone out, thereby mashing the flesh considerably or leave the stone in and proceed with the grilling.
We chose the latter here. Accordingly, these are ready for the grill. Actually we have done this leave-the-stone-in thing with a number of other fruits, peaches and apricots for example, and it always works out well. This is known territory.
incidentally, the two halves at the top are not from the third plum shown above, but from a plum that fell during the first week of July from a tree in a garden associated with Robert Louis Stevenson. A little mystery there, perhaps you can track it down.
It doesn't take long. Just a couple of minutes per side. Probe with a fork, once they've been turned over, to determine more carefully exactly how soft the plums have become and to decide whether they suit your particular preference. The original firmness of the plum should not be allowed to melt away since that texture adds so much to the experience of eating most fruits, and plums in particular.
The time on the grill can be used to contemplate a few facts about plums. Take, for instance, that whitish coating we sometimes see on the plum skin. This is entirely natural, produced by the plum itself, though it only appears as the plum becomes fully ripe. You can in fact take it as a useful sign for ripeness. Now, since few people know this is natural that may help explain one of the reasons only under-ripe plums appear in the market. The coating, if you do encounter it on the rare occasion, is easily rubbed off and is technically known as "wax bloom." Nice name, "wax bloom."
One more thought before we turn them over. The juice of the plum can be fermented into plum wine. Distilling plum wine a good deal further creates Slivovitz, a brandy known in Eastern Europe.
Other side of the story
Although we generally see only one type of plum in the market, there is in fact surprisingly great variety in plum sizes and colors, as well as in how hard the flesh is. The flesh itself varies from red to yellow, to green, even to white.
The ones here have just been turned and will be off the grill in two minutes.
One of the rewards of grilling fruits like these is just the sheer beauty of seeing them laid out before you like this. Not to even mention the spectacular taste that awaits you..
Here we have made the decision to combine the warm plums with that glorious thing known as dark chocolate.
Not just any dark chocolate, however, but -- wait for this -- one that has rock sea salt in it and an inner layer of caramel. Moreover, the bar of this heavenly manna has been kept in the freezer and is being pulled out just for this dessert. Who could have imagined? Not in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine that chocolate would be combined with rock sea salt.
Part of the pleasure, in addition to the glorious taste of the star of the show, the grilled plums themselves, lies in the contrasts on the plate: a) frozen - warm, as well as b) plum - chocolate. Maybe "sinful" is a better word for this than "practically obscene." Choose our vice of choice, we can't go wrong.
Botanically, the plum is placed in the genus prunus. This is the genus that contains the stone fruits. Of course, prunus gives us prunes, now used exclusively for dried plums.
The "dried plums" (now preferred to "prunes" among the -- prudish?) we know and love (try them with red wine) are actually from a different cultivar from the fresh plums we buy in the store, a European cultivar to be precise, one which is a "freestone" fruit -- ie, the stone is particularly easy to remove.
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