Plums are a versatile fruit that can be incorporated into jams and chutneys, crumbles and tarts, cakes and pies. And there are plenty of ways to include them in savoury dishes as well, although I’ve yet to be convinced of the merits of using most fruit in this way. I also enjoy them raw, but their flavour is intensified with cooking and simple baked plums are quite simply delicious.
This is a wonderful recipe that really does work well. It’s a quick, easy and simple dessert that also feels self-indulgent. And what could be better than that? I think that it’s particularly good on a cold night, although I also enjoy it at room temperature on a warm day.
The plums are cooked with a relatively small amount of Marsala, a fortified Italian wine often used in cooking, which can be added to a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes. It goes well with both nuts and cheese, and as such is a great choice for this particular dessert (which includes almonds and
must should be served with mascarpone) where it also pairs delightfully well with the sticky sweet juice of the baked plums.
And they really should be served with mascarpone – a thick and creamy, soft Italian cheese that’s perhaps most well-known for the part that it plays in the classic Italian dessert tiramisu (which also typically includes Marsala wine). Mascarpone is indulgent and decadent. I adore it and often use it as a substitute for cream. I’ve also been known to sit there with a spoon and eat it directly from the container. But it might be best not to mention that. You could serve it with ice-cream, but frankly that just wouldn’t be the same.
Finally, don’t forget to serve these baked plums alongside a small glass of Marsala.
Recipe: Marsala Baked Plums with Almonds and Mascarpone
4 juicy but firm, red plums
50g / 1 ¾ oz almonds, roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter
c.2 tbsp caster sugar, according to taste
3 tbsp Marsala wine
200g / 7oz Mascarpone
Or more. Have as much as you like.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / gas mark 6.
Cut through the plums all the way around through to the stone. Hold the plum in your palm and twist the other half away so that it comes off smoothly. Remove the stones with a teaspoon. Sit the plums cut side up in a baking dish.
Sprinkle the roughly chopped almonds over the plums. Dot a small amount of butter onto each plum half and scatter with sugar. Pour the Marsala over the plums and into the dish.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the liquid starts to look caramelized, then add about 80ml hot water around the plums. Bake for another 15 minutes or so, until the tops are golden and crusty and the plums are soft but still in shape.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes or so.
Serve with the mascarpone.