These California Sugar Plums showed up at our market, like a little gift at the end of summer. They are so sweet and lovely that the first bunch I bought were gobbled up, pure and simple. I returned and bought two more quarts of them with the intention of roasting them. Their flavor is so wonderful and the sugars so developed they didn’t need much adornment. When you cut into the plums the flesh is slightly green, and against the purple skin it is really quite beautiful. I left the skins on, as I am apt to do, but this time I’ll admit that the skins, although pretty, were a little too tough. I was afraid that as the flesh baked the skins would remain too firm.
Well I never got far enough to find out. My oven exploded while I was preheating it. Yes, exploded!
My son and I were in the kitchen, when all the sudden I heard a loud bang and saw sparks flying around the inside of the oven. I turned it off and stayed close by, holding my fire extinguisher, just in case. My neighbor’s house recently burned down from faulty electrical wiring, so I am always prepared and perhaps over cautious. It was quite a scene. Once the oven cooled down enough I opened the door to find that the electrical heating element had combusted (see the picture below). The sparks were caused by it melting onto the metal plate above. It was a dusty, soot filled mess and my oven out of commission. I’ve only had the oven for a year, although it has been a very, very busy year for it. I still don’t think it should have blown up!? Have you ever heard of such a thing?
So there are my plums all ready to go into the oven and now there isn’t one.
One of my favorite flavor combinations is sugar plums with fresh ginger. The intense sweet with a bite. I had combined a little brown sugar with freshly grated ginger and some orange zest. Tossed it all together and now it had to just sit. I wrapped it up and threw it all in the refrigerator. Here’s the recipe:
8 small California Sugar Plums quartered (with or without the skins on)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (I used a Microplane Fine Grater)
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat the oven to 350° (and hope it doesn’t blow up!) and place the cut plums in a baking dish.
Combine the sugar, ginger and orange zest with your fingers until combined.
Sprinkle it over the plums. At this point I would have baked them, with no cover for about an hour, tossing them in the sugar after about 30 minutes and returning them to the oven.
Instead they sat in the refrigerator over night. I opened the refrigerator this morning and tasted one of the plums. To my very pleasant surprise I’d fallen into an even better and more simple way to prepare them. The sugar had melted and the ginger, because it wasn’t heated still had all of its intense and glorious zing. Although I suspect roasting them will be wonderful as well, for now I am thrilled with the fruit that has marinated in the sugar and spices.
We ate the sugar plums with fresh ginger over whole milk plain yogurt for breakfast, but over vanilla ice cream would be a fabulous dessert!
A pastry chef without an oven. Breathe Zoe, breathe! It can be fixed, no one was hurt and I’ll be back in action on Monday.