Blood plums are a particular favourite of mine, both for their excellent colour and rich plummy flavour. This particular type is quite sweet but has a deliciously bitter skin that results in a dessert that is not too sweet. The chocolate sponge recipe is easy and quick and oh so very light and the cream becomes a quite delightful shade of pink.
- 400 ml prosecco
- 600 ml water
- 400 g caster sugar
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 strips of lemon peel
- 12 ripe tegan blue or satsuma plums
- 170 g 53% chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 100 g caster sugar
- 200 ml pouring cream
- cocoa powder for dusting
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the poached plums, place the liquids and the sugar in a large shallow saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it boils, throw in the rest of the ingredients and turn it down to a simmer. Give it a few minutes to mingle before gently lowering in the plums. Cover the plums with a round of baking paper and put a little weight on them to make sure they are submerged under the liquor.
Simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until soft and just starting to fall apart. At this stage your liquor should have turned a very pretty colour.
Gently remove the plums from the poaching juices and strain off half the liquid back into another small pot, pouring the remaining back over the plums (with all the bits as well). The plums will be best served at room temperature.
Put the strained liquor back on the heat and reduce by ⅔. You should end up with a thick dark red syrupy saucy thing. Allow to cool.
Once cool, place in a mixing bowl with the cream and whisk until you get soft peaks. You should now be looking at a bowl of pink fluffy cream.
To make the sponge, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and slowly melt over a double boiler.
Whisk the egg yolks with 50 g of the sugar in a kitchen mixer for about 5 minutes, you want it to look light and fluffy and be forming thick ribbons.
Place the mixer on a medium speed and slowly scrape in the chocolate until it’s fully combined. Transfer this chocolate mix to a mixing bowl and hand all your dirty kitchen mixer bits to your kitchen hand to swiftly clean and dry and return to you.
Whisk the whites to soft peaks, add the remaining sugar and continue whisking until your peaks are stiff.
Bit by bit, gently fold the whites into the chocolate mixture until it’s all combined.
Spread your cake mixture into a lined tin 28 cm x 36 cm and place in a pre-heated oven at 190°C. Bake for 10–15 minutes using a skewer to test when it’s ready.
Set aside and leave to cool in the tin.
Gently remove the seeds from the plums; this should be easy as they should be soft enough to jiggle out with your fingers. Don’t be concerned if they get broken up a little.
Cut the sponge into 24 nice pieces. Lay out 12 plates with a square of sponge on each. Add a nice dollop of cream on top, and then spoon 1 plum on top of that. As you spoon, be happy to use a little of the juice too. You’ll find that the cream and the plums will not really stay nicely balanced on top and may seep but this is part of this desserts appeal.
Dust the remaining bits of sponge with cocoa powder before gently placing a square on top of each on.
Serve with any remaining plum cream and plums on the side.
• Poach the plums beforehand and feel free to use another type of booze, something white or sweet, as long as it’s not too heavy. The plums will last for at least a week as will the reduced plum liquor. This allows you to be able to produce the dessert at the drop of a hat.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson. Salad plates in colours dust (light grey), slate (dark grey) and dipping bowl in colour plum (cream) all from Mud. Wonky ware bowl in colour white (plum sauce) from White Home.