Peaches seem to get picked more often than plums this time of year, but with plum season starting this month, it's time to consider the underrated stone fruit.
Throughout the summer, plums are great sliced and tossed into big dinner salads. Every year since I first came across a famous plum torte from New York Times food columnist Marian Burros, I've baked the simple but wonderful cake topped with halved plums. (Find that recipe at tbtim.es/plumtorte.)
Plums also make for excellent sorbet, and ice pops, too. As summer descends upon us, I'll be making plenty more Plum Swirl Pops With Basil.
Red plums (with red skins and flesh) are my go-to pick for these pretty, swirly pops, but most varieties will do. Look for plums that yield to gentle pressure and are slightly soft at their tips. Plop them onto a baking sheet and roast until the fruit slumps and the sheet is streaked with red syrup. Nearly every time I make this recipe, I'm surprised by how much flavor comes from the roasted plums. During roasting, a lot of water is removed from the fruit, which leaves them tasting even more like themselves.
The "swirl" comes from yogurt, and you can control how much you'd like to swirl the plum mixture with the yogurt. A basil-infused simple syrup provides another layer of flavor. The syrup comes together quickly while the plums do their thing in the oven. The People's Pops recipe I riffed on calls for aniselike tarragon, but basil conjures up summer more strongly for me. The syrup becomes incredibly fragrant and heady with the herb.
The pop pros in New York City say this is one of their top 10 flavors ever, and I can see why. I made and loved their raspberry and cream pop, but this one is more complex.
Ileana Morales Valentine lives in St. Petersburg with her husband. For more of their kitchen stories, visit her blog, ALittleSaffron.com. Say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plum Swirl Pops With Basil
1 pound fresh red plums (3 to 4 large plums or 8 to 9 small ones), halved and pitted
⅔ cup sugar
⅔ cup water
2 to 3 sprigs fresh basil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup vanilla yogurt
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the plums cut side down on a cookie sheet and roast until the skins and flesh are slumped and softened, 20 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add basil and simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Let the herbs steep in the simple syrup while the mixture cools.
Transfer the fruit (and all its syrup released onto the baking sheet) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined and smooth. The whipped-up plums will become frothy.
Strain the basil out of the infused simple syrup, squeezing the herbs over the pan to extract all the juice. Transfer the pureed plums to a two-cup measuring cup with a spout. Stir in the simple syrup and lemon juice to combine. Taste the mixture and adjust if necessary. It should taste pretty sweet, as any sweetness dulls after the pops are frozen. Gently swirl in almost all of the yogurt, being careful not to mix too much for a stronger contrast in color. (A sweeter vanilla yogurt helps ensure the pops are sweet enough.)
Pour the mixture into ice pop molds, leaving a bit of room at the top for the mixture to expand as it freezes, and stopping to swirl in a bit more yogurt here and there for more color contrast in the pops. Insert sticks now if your mold has a top to hold them in place (if not, do so after about an hour or two) and freeze until the pops are solid, at least 4 to 5 hours. Release the pops by submerging the plastic mold part in warm water. Serve immediately or place individual pops in plastic bags and store in the freezer.
Makes 10 pops.
Source: Recipe adapted from People's Pops by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell and Joel Horowitz