One of my favorite poems is by William Carlos Williams. It’s about plums (!). But it’s also about apologizing without actually apologizing. It’s about seduction. And it's called "This is Just to Say."
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
A role the plum was born to play. I only wish prunes could get that level of respect. Prunes get nose wrinkling and Senokot®. I hate that. And—while we’re at it—the rebranding of prunes as “dried plums” a few years back was really offensive. Makes me feel like a stone fruit evangelist. (It’s also what inspired the title of this very blog.)
Anyway, these stains have only deepened my love. I am a champion for plums. Even the wrinkly ones.
They possess a poetic balance of sweetness and acid, delivered in an array of shades and shapes. Which makes them perfect for dessert. Take Ina Garten’s plum tart. It partners with rosemary or thyme like a dream. It’s easy and delivers, every time. I still have my sights set on Jess’s yeasted plum cake, too. And if you are looking to stray in a savory direction, I strongly suggest the caramel duck fat potatoes with prunes, from Jerusalem. It operates on another plane altogether. A crispy, salty, sweet one.
But now, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce early plum frozen yogurt.
It pushes all the buttons you want a summer dessert to push. It's refreshing, freckled with vanilla beans, layered with tart plum bits, and delicately sweetened. I used deep purple plums with canary yellow flesh, which birthed a ballet slipper-colored base dissected with bright pink fleshy swirls.
You could call it an imitation of the actual fruit, whose sweet skin plus tart pulp offers much more than its separated parts. The yogurt rejoins these parts with its plum ribbon running through it. It also has that gutsy chew that is so wonderfully characteristic of Jeni’s Splendid recipes.
All this just to say the yogurt was delicious. So sweet. And so cold.
Early Plum Frozen Yogurt
Inspired by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer
for the frozen yogurt base
1 quart plain low fat yogurt
1½ cups whole milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 ounces (4 tbsp) cream cheese, softened
½ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean pod, split, seeds and pod reserved
for the plum swirl and plum syrup
2 limes, 1 zested and both juiced
4 black plums, each sliced into 6 wedges
1/3 cup demerara sugar
pinch of salt
splash of rosewater
Over a large bowl, fit a sieve or colander double-lined with cheesecloth. Pour yogurt into the lined bowl to drain; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (6 to 8 hours).
In a medium saucepan, place lime juice, zest, plums, demerara sugar, and pinch of salt and heat on medium, stirring occasionally, and gently.
Once the plums’ skins start to separate from the flesh, remove enough slices from pan to make 1 heaping cup and place in a small bowl. (The plums should be slightly softened, but not falling apart; it is okay to do this a few pieces at a time, as not all the plums will lose their skins at once. The plums yellow flesh should turn bright pink from being cooked with their skins.)
Cook the remaining plums and their liquid down until thick (about 20 minutes); using a small sieve, strain out the skins, pressing down to extract all the juice. You should have just over ½ cup plum liquid; add in the rosewater. Place in a small container. Cover and refrigerate both the plum halves and plum liquid.
Discard the liquid from the strained yogurt; measure out 1¼ cups of yogurt and set aside. (Use the small amount of leftover yogurt for another use.) In a small bowl, whisk 3 tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Whisk the cream cheese in a separate small bowl until smooth. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla bean (pod and seeds) over medium heat; boil 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
Remove the milk mixture from the heat, discard the vanilla bean pod, whisk in the cornstarch slurry, and return the liquid to medium heat until it thickens slightly, about a minute or two. Whisk a little of the hot mixture into the cream cheese, enough so that it becomes smooth, then whisk into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Remove from heat; whisk in the yogurt and reserved plum liquid.
Set a medium-sized metal bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice. Set a strainer on top and pour the liquid through to remove any unseemly bits. Let cool; cover and refrigerate the base overnight.
Churn the base in a frozen ice cream canister for 20 to 25 minutes, until the base pulls away from the sides of the canister, forming ribbons. While the yogurt is churning, cut up the reserved plum halves into bite-sized pieces. Spoon a little of the base into a freezer safe-container and then layer with plum bits; repeat layering until both the plums and base are all used up, ending with the base.
Place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the container, over the top of the yogurt; seal and freeze at least 4 hours before serving.
Makes about a quart
-This is a hard frozen yogurt; you’ll want to take it out a few minutes to soften before scooping.
-I suspect if you use plums with dark flesh, the result will be a darker shade.
-We are a tad premature for plum season right now in Massachusetts. I had very good luck with some local supermarket fruit. I think nectarines would be lovely here too.
-I can never get my act together enough to let the cream cheese soften ahead of time, so I usually stick it in the microwave for a few seconds. It does wonders.