Prunes’ reputation as a geriatric-friendly high-fiber food prompted the California Prune Board to request an official name change. In 2000, the FDA granted the board (now called the California Dried Plum Board) permission to call these fruits dried plums instead of prunes.We don’t care what you call them. Just stew them in port and red wine and serve with mascarpone, heavy cream, whipped cream, ricotta cheese, crème fraîche, ice cream, you name it. Or pour them over pound cake, like in this Drunken Prune–Mascarpone Trifle.
60 pitted prunes (about 18 ounces)
2¼ cups dry red wine
1½ cups tawny port
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped, seeds and pod reserved
¼ teaspoon fine salt
3 cups mascarpone cheese
Finely grated zest of 1½ medium lemons
1. Place all ingredients except the mascarpone and zest in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium low and keep the mixture at a gentle boil until the liquid is syrupy, about 45 minutes. (Put a spoonful of syrup on a plate and let it cool for a minute. Draw your finger through the syrup. If it immediately runs back together, it is not ready. If it holds the line you drew, it’s ready.) Let cool at least 15 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod.
2. Place the mascarpone and lemon zest in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Divide the cheese mixture among 10 dessert plates, spreading it into a wide well with a spoon. Place 6 prunes in the center of each well and drizzle with syrup. Serves 10. –Jill Santopietro for CHOW.com.