I’m always on the lookout for interesting ingredients or things that can be added to a fairly run of the mill dessert or dish to lift it and add a new dimension. So while reading the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller, my interest was caught by an article about The Press Club (a new modern Greek restaurant in Melbourne) that featured a recipe with a chocolate “cigar” as one of its elements. Don’t you just love the names they give to these things? Chocolate “tube” or “pipe” just doesn’t have the same glamorous ring about it, does it?.
I also liked the sound of another recipe in a different section of the magazine for poached plums with plum sorbet and creme brulee. I wasn’t in the mood for creme brulee but thought the chocolate cigar might work nicely. There was a stack of plums in the fridge downstairs, courtesy of some friends that own a plum tree, so as is often the case with me, I borrowed bits from the two recipes and made this.
Red wine-poached plums, plum sorbet and chocolate cigars
adapted from Gourmet Traveller, March 2007
1 litre red wine
2 cinnamon quills
3 star anise
300gm caster sugar
juice of 2 lemons
10 large (about 1.5kg) blood plums
50gm caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
100gm dark chocolate (53% cocoa solids), melted
70gm walnuts, coarsely chopped
70gm hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
2 sheets filo pastry
60gm butter, melted and cooled
Heat all ingredients except plums in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and add plums. Reduce heat and cook gently until plums are tender. Remove plums from liquid and cool. Reserve liquid. Remove stones from 6 plums and puree in a food processor. Pass through a fine sieve. Discard solids. You’ll need 2 cups (500ml) of plum puree. Simmer 1 cup (250ml) of plum poaching liquid until reduced to 1/2 cup.
For sorbet, heat 1 cup of plum puree and glucose in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until glucose has dissolved. Add sugar and remaining puree, stir to combine. Pass through a fine sieve. Churn in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.
For chocolate cigars, combine chocolate, walnuts and hazelnuts in a bowl and stand for 45 minutes or until mixture is firm. Divide into 4 pieces and roll into a cylinder. Brush a sheet of filo pastry with butter and top with another sheet. Cut lengthways into 4 pieces. Lay a chocolate cylinder along the length of a pastry sheet, roll, tucking ends in and brush with butter to seal. Repeat with remaining filo and chocolate cylinders. Preheat oven to 180° C. Place cigars on baking paper lined tray and bake for 5-6 minutes until pale golden. Cut cigars in half diagonally.
To serve, place a scoop of sorbet and a plum in each serving dish and serve with two halved cigars on the side.
As you’ll see in the photo, I used small plums instead of the large blood plums. They worked fine but required more work stoning them. I also had to judge how many plums to take out for the puree.