Although plums are best enjoyed from July to September, this delicious plum and port tarte works extremely well as a winter dessert. The buttery shortcrust pastry pairs with the tartness of the cooked plums, while the port brings an extra ounce of sweetness. Plums originated in Asia, cultivated in Syria, grafted (and preserved via drying) by the Romans – and, were finally introduced into Western Europe by the Crusaders. This subtly sweet and tart fruit became prized after the Renaissance and became widespread beginning in France from the 16th century onwards. Port on the other hand is a sweet red dessert wine from the Upper Douro region in northern Portugal; typically matured and blended in amarzens (wine lodges), it takes its name from the seaport Oporto opposite which the shippers maintained their amarzens in Vila Nova de Gaia. While the name Port is protected by the EU, many varieties of ‘port-style’ wine have been produced from blends of grape varietals including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Cão and Tinta Roriz; the fermentation is stopped from the introduction of grape spirit.
Served room temperature or slightly warmed, with a scoop of ice cream and drizzled with some of the leftover port syrup, this tarte is the perfect accompaniment to a cold winter’s eve. Add an extra glass of Portuguese’s finest and share with a loved one for Valentine’s day – it certainly got my husband’s vote.
Plum and Port Tarte
8-10 medium plums, pitted and quartered
2 cups (1/5 litre) tawny port
peel from 1/2 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup (120 g) golden castor sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of the pie
1 tbl flour
1/4 tsp ea. cinnamon and all spice
- Prepare Pâte Brisée and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
- Boil the sugar, all spice, cinnamon, port, lemon peel and vanilla bean (seeds and pods). in a medium skillet until it begins to thicken and turn syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside. Remove vanilla pods and lemon peel.
- Place the quartered plums in a large bowl and sprinkle the flour all over them. Toss to coat. Add in half of the reduced syrup and toss to coat again. Reserve the other half of the syrup to drizzle on the slices.
- Roll out Pâte Brisée and place over a 9 inch pie chart. Leave some hanging over on the sides. Spoon the syrupy plums in the middle of the pie, drizzle a bit of the leftover syrup over them and fold the hanging dough over the plums. Brush the crust with water and sprinkle golden castor sugar over both the dough and the plums.
- Bake for 45-50 min or until the crust becomes golden brown and the syrup begins to bubble. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream and some of the reserved (warmed) syrup all over it. Best with an extra glass of port.