A bag of plums! A big bag of plums. Just when you think each day is blindly blending into the next with no real milestones a bag of plums arrives at your front gate. An unexpected big bag of plums. Suddenly your day has purpose and that purpose is Plum and Cardamom Puff Pastry Tarts.
It started with a weekly ZOOM call and a group of close friends. We talk on Fridays. It’s a nice ritual, however, with most of us staying home there sometimes is nothing new to say. Yet somehow, this past Friday, the talk turned to the entirely new subject of plums. The plums on one friend’s tree. She’s got a bumper crop this year and we talked about all the plummy things she’s been preparing. That’s when I probably (boldly) expressed plum envy. It’s a virtual cocktail party after all, and my mouth may have been a little lubricated!
Well, it’s no secret that people are generally kind. And kindness shows itself in many forms. Including through big bag of plums delivered right to your front gate.
Plum and Cardamom Puff Pastry Tarts
What do you keep in your freezer? It’s not just for the leftovers you’d rather soon forget. I keep a few staples in there too. Coffee beans, a tub of vanilla ice cream, some frozen peas, a bottle of gin, and a packet of aspirational pork belly. And another thing: a box of all-butter puff pastry.
Who doesn’t want to the freedom to throw together a crispy, crunchy sweet treat on a whim? You never know when a big bag of plums will come your way.
Speaking of sweet treats. I do have a few actual cooking notes on the following plum tart recipe. The first concerns the puff pastry to the plum ratio. It may seem that less than a pound of plums would never bring enough sweet-tart goodness to these little pies. But let me tell you it’s a big mistake to load up raw puff pastry with thick layers of filling. The delight of these tarts is that they are light and crisp, qualities that you risk losing with too much filling. Besides, you’ll notice the shape of these tarts is decidedly bowl-like. Making them the perfect vessel for vanilla ice cream.
My second tip is directed to the plums: Have you noticed that most plums have stones that tend to stick to the flesh making it difficult to remove the pit without making a mushy mess? Why doesn’t the pit just pop out?
Well, there’s a reason. Stone fruits fall into two categories: freestone and cling. A lot of peaches are freestone– apricots too. Their stones are easy to free. Plums are in the cling category. Their pits cling to the flesh.
You can try to pry the pits free using a variety of kitchen tools. But I bet you end up with a mushy mess. There’s a better way to slice a plum.
How to Cut a Plum Into Slices
Find the cleft running down the length of the plum. With your knife parallel to that indentation, make two vertical cuts on either side of the center of the plum, about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch apart, as you would a mango. These are called cheeks, set them aside.
Trim the remaining flesh from each side of the pit. These slices can be left whole or cut in half lengthwise, depending on the recipe. My tarts call for 1/2‑inch slices so I left them whole.
Slice the two larger remaining “cheek” pieces into 1/2‑inch thick pieces. I prefer to slice straight down for more even cooking, but wedges are fine if you prefer.
PS I use this same method for apples when slicing them for pie.