First of all, I would like to apologize for my long silence and the absence of new posts during the past week. I went on an unexpected, last-minute trip to Japan and hardly had the time to pack my luggage correctly. Those of you who know for how long I had been dreaming about visiting this country will probably understand why I have completely lost my mind there and wasn’t able to follow my beloved blogs, not to mention posting. I hope you will all forgive me. Even though I did take some photos during this wonderful stay, I don’t have as many as I wanted (on the other hand isn’t our brain the best photo album in the world?) and certainly not enough to make a whole post about Japan. As soon as I find my camera battery charger, I will see if I can share with you at least a couple of the food-related ones. In the meantime I will be trying to catch up with all your posts I have missed and would like to share with you an unusual, wonderful preserve I discovered just before I left for Tokyo.
Even though it’s hard to believe, this unappetising jar contains a highly palatable jam. Plum and chocolate jam has been quite popular on internet several years ago and as a huge fan of both plum jam and chocolate I bookmarked this idea and then forgot about it. A couple of weeks ago I noticed this original version of Plum and Chocolate Jam by my inspiring friend Bea, who also lives in Switzerland and who I greatly admire for both culinary skills and extraordinary photographs. I made a small batch almost instantly and even though my jam looked much less appetising than hers, the result was stunningly good. Bea calls the jam “prunes in chocolate” and if you have ever had this sweet snack I personally go crazy for (see here my 10 minute recipe), you must test this recipe too.
The unusual mixture of sweet, sour and bitter flavours will not please every palate (my husband said he preferred the real Nutella 😉 ), but for tangy and dark chocolate dessert fans like me it is a real feast. I think this jam would be excellent on buttered toast, but also as a versatile cake, biscuit or cookie filling. Plums are invading market stalls now and I already now that apart from the Plum Butter I prepare every year, I will fill my pantry with another batch of this delicacy. I have slightly modified Bea’s recipe, adding more rum and skipping the spices (ginger, cinnamon and cloves), so feel free to add them for a more complex flavour. Thank you so much, Bea, for this extraordinary recipe.
If this Plum and Chocolate Jam doesn’t sound inspiring, you might like the Damson Plum Butter, the extraordinary, rich taste of which has got nothing to do with standard plum jam:
And if you look for a quick and delicious (and rather healthy) sweet snack, try the ridiculously simple Prunes in Chocolate:
TIP: The best plums to use here are long, dark violet (purple) or dark blue plums, of damson variety or similar. They should have aromatic, dark skin and dark yellow flesh.
Preparation: 2 days
Ingredients (yield: about 4 x 200 ml/7 oz jars):
20 prunes (without stones)
50 ml (about 1,7 oz) rum + 50 ml hot water
2 kg (about 4,4 pounds) long, violet/purple/dark blue plums
50 g (about 1,8 oz) good bitter chocolate
5 heaped tablespoons cocoa
sugar (at least 600 grams; the amount depends on your preferences and the plums’ sweetness)
(50 ml/about 1,7 oz rum)
Cut up the prunes into pieces and soak in rum and hot water overnight.
The following day wash the plums, stone them and put in a big pan. Add the prunes and their soaking water.
Add some water (about 10% of the fruits’ initial weight), so that they don’t stick to the bottom until they start releasing their juice.
Put the pan on a low heat and let it simmer, stirring occasionally. First you can stir every 30 minutes, but when the mixture thickens, you should lower the heat to the absolute minimum and stir it every ten minutes. The thicker the mixture, the more often you should stir it.
If the pan burns, quickly transfer the unfinished butter to another pan (otherwise it will “take” the burnt flavour).
After about two or three hours add the minimal amount of sugar.
Simmer the jam for about 30 minutes and add more sugar if needed (and simmer for 30 more minutes, constantly stirring).
30 minutes before the end add the cocoa and the chocolate and let the mixture simmer, constantly stirring. Add more rum if you want (I thought rum was a perfect flavour enhancer here).
If you want, you can quickly mix the jam in a food processor, so that it has a smooth, spread-like consistency. (I did it).
/At this point you can either freeze it (after the jam has cooled down) or keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or process it in the jars, as described below, and store it in your pantry for at least a year./
Pour the jam, still hot, into sterilised jars. Cover with lids. Leave the jars to cool.
Place the cool jars in a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling – water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the jam and don’t forget to mark the date.