Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spiced Plum Sauce

There is nothing complicated or even that special about this simple sauce, but my kids go nuts for it on their steel cut oats and would happily eat a bowl of it for dessert. I am not the kind of parent who goes in for making food art, but one small thing I am willing to do is to use this sauce to fashion a very abstract heart shape on their oatmeal; it always makes them smile. True to form, one child stirs the sauce in to flavor the whole bowl, while the other dives right into the heart and gets the biggest spoonful of it she possibly can.

As with my pear-clove sauce, there is no added sweetener here. The spices are so warm and tasty that sugar would be superfluous. I made up a big batch and will freeze it in cube-sized portions or half-pint mason jars so we can enjoy through the winter.

A word to the wise, if you choose to scale up the recipe because you have truly an insane amount of plums (as I am lucky enough to have thanks to the bounty of my friend Melanie's tree), do not scale up the spice at the same rate or you will end up with a way-too-strong sauce on your hands. I would only double the spice if quadrupling the recipe, for example.

Finally, if you've got an Instant Pot you can throw the washed and halved fruit, 1/2 cup water or so  for a double or triple quantity of fruit and the spice into your Instant Pot and use the steam setting on LOW pressure for 10 minutes and come out with a delicious end product ready to be puréed. But don't make my mistake and do a quick release of the pressure. That led to sticky plum steam getting absolutely everywhere. Instead let the pressure come down on its own and only then release the lid.

One particularly great use of this sauce is as a replacement for the applesauce in the Applesauce Oat Pancakes with Raisins recipe. I do this quite often and we all really enjoy it. Any recipe that uses applesauce should be fine to swap with this plum sauce.

INGREDIENTS
6-10 purple-skinned plums or pluots (I used prune plums and Black Friar plums)
1/2 cinnamon stick
1-3 whole allspice berries
Seeds from 1 green cardamom pod
Splash of water

DIRECTIONS
  1. Wash and slice plums into uniform pieces
  2. Place plums and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan. The splash of water is just to keep the plums from burning before they start giving up their juices
  3. Cook over medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring somewhat frequently at the beginning so that the fruit doesn't stick to the pan. I cover the pan but that's optional
  4. Once the sauce smells delicious and the plums have basically disintegrated, remove from heat and let cool. If fruit flies are a problem in your kitchen, be sure to cover the pan
  5. Discard the cinnamon stick and any of the allspice berries you can find--the cardamom seeds can stay
  6. Whiz up in a blender or food processor or use an immersion blender to make a smooth sauce
  7. Serve over ice cream, pancakes or waffles or stir into hot cereal or yogurt. Would also be delightful with some toasted crumble topping stirred into it

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