Fall has arrived and I have been happily cooking away in my kitchen with my new-found treasure Zwetchgen, a small unassuming purple plum that is called Italian plum in this country. In their natural state these plums have very little flavor and taste bland—but once baked, they transform into a treat , perfumed, tart, and sweet. I made several batches of my plum butter and I am thrilled to have them in my pantry (garage). The flavor is amazing, rich and earthy. But I also made several cakes.
Every September, from 1983-1989 the New York Times printed Marian Burros’ recipe for plum torte. Here is a link to the recipe (and I love reading all the comments). I have made this cake twice now, and have adjusted the recipe to my taste. I also baked a tart with a custard that my Swiss friend made for me in Switzerland. It was delicious and I hope to post it one of these days. My French girlfriend made a tarte aux quetsches, unfortunately I didn't get to taste it. Zwetschgenkuchen in Germany is usually baked with a lot of plums and a yeast-based sheet cake. Marian Burros’ Plum Torte recipe is a no-fuss, easy-to-make dessert. It is similar to other cake recipes with fruit that I have made many times. My tasters approved, but my fussy husband thought it was a little dry.
I also like using plums for my galette. Click for the recipe here.
When I was a child, we had several plum trees in our garden. One variety was called Zwetschgen, similar to the prune. Our Zwetschgen tree would overflow with fruit and our family would make Zwetschgenmus (aka spiced plum butter) in a huge copper kettle that was heated by a piece of burning wood from underneath. We would have big glass canning jars with rubber rings in our pantry filled with delicious plum butter.
As children we could not get enough of this sweet, rich and gooey plum butter spread on country bread and topped with schmand. The best way to describe schmand is a fresh cream that is similar to Créme Fraîche or whipping cream. I used greek yogurt on my sandwich .
In this country we call Zwetschgen Italian plums and they are seldom available where I live . You can imagine how happy I was when I found them in a local food stand. I bought all they had and made two different batches of Zwetschgenmus and baked two different cakes.
My Zwetschegenmus is a tartly rich and earthy-tasting fruit butter with a slight taste of cinnamon and allspice. These sour little plums (without much juice or flavor) once baked turn into an amazingly flavorful treat. It’s like the frog that turns into a prince. For the Zwetschgenmus, I chose a recipe from Louisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking book. I have to say it turned out just as good as Helga Papas,’ my village neighbor who has made it for decades in Germany and always shared some with my family. My brother is especially fond of it and I will keep a jar for him to eat when he comes to visit me this year. If you see this little unpretentious plum in a store next to their juicy voluptuous cousins, don’t pass them by. You will not regret it when you have a spoonful of Zwetschgenmus.
I have an everlasting love for Paris. I discover something new every time I go there and fall in love with it all over again. Click over to my wanderlust blog and read about my last trip to Paris. (Sorry for any inconvenience, but my Wanderlust blog doesn’t send emails to notify you of new blog entries.)
As a treat, I will give you an iced coffee drink that was my absolute favorite when I was a young student. This was long before the era of Starbucks & today’s coffee culture. In those days, Europe had café-bakeries. A good cup of coffee was considered a luxury, so many people drank fake coffee (chicory) because the real stuff wasn’t available, especially in East Germany. Giving someone a pound of good coffee was a great gift. At that time, I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker, but I always loved to have an Eiskaffee (cold coffee with ice cream). As a young student, I was living mostly on french fries with mayonnaise (I switched to ketchup when I came to this country) which was sold from stands on every corner. You could also get currywurst, a sausage topped with ketchup and sprinkled with curry and paprika. However, when I had some extra money, I would treat myself to an Eiskaffee in a fancy coffee house. Whenever I am in Germany in the summertime, I revive memories by having this delicious drink. On my last trip to Europe, my friends from Switzerland took us to Lake Konstanze, which borders Switzerland and Germany. We had a lovely outdoor lunch with a view of the lake, and for dessert we ordered Eiskaffee. What a fun afternoon with good food and good friends. I know the hot weather is mostly over, but enjoy this treat anyway with a friend or loved one. It’s a great way to use up leftover cold coffee. Think of it as a coffee milkshake, only better.
All you need is :
a tall glass
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 cup or cold coffee
½ cup or less whipped cream
1 tube-shaped wafer cookie (Trader Joe’s has some good ones).
Scoop the vanilla ice cream into a tall glass.
Poor the cold coffee over the ice cream.
Top with whipped cream and a cookie.
You can sweeten your whipped cream or coffee and add some shaved chocolate to garnish.
Guten Appetit, my friends
recipe by ©sunnycovechef.com
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