TWO recipes for the price of one!

Fourth of July weekend I had two gatherings.  The first was hanging out with muffin and June and their friend PP.  This gathering included much staring at Muffin and June’s baby.   The second was a family barbecue in Cupertino.   I knew I wanted to make a summer fruit version of the Barefoot Contessa Plum Cake tatin (the French word for upside-down cake) and I also wanted to do quick strawberry mousse that is sugar free (but high in fat!).

The plum cake morphed into a pluot cake.  For those of you not in the know, a pluot is a hybrid of a plum and an apricot.  The result is a delicious blend of sweetness, acidity and fragrance.  Here’s the recipe below.  One thing I am adding to like EVERYTHING is vanilla paste.  For those of you who can find it (Trader Joe’s used to carry it), vanilla paste is a cheap alternative to vanilla beans.  You can squirt a bit in and get  the same vanilla bean punch for a lot less money.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 10 to 12 plouts, quartered and pitted
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla paste
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the plums in the dish, cut side down.

Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  (because I wanted the color of the plouts to come through, I decided to stop when it was a lighter, honey color).  Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Pour evenly over the plums.

Meanwhile, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the pluots and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If a plum sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

For a picture of the cake go here.

For my family’s gathering I decided to make a strawberry mousse for myself.  The secret to a quick mousse is mascarpone cheese.  I looked at the Barefoot Contessa Ice box cake and saw how well the whipped cream/mascarpone cheese mixture held up and decided to sue the mascarpone in a mousse.  The result was a creamy, silky mix.  This is definitely less airy than your regular mousse but much more creamy.

1 pint of strawberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar or splenda

1 8oz package of mascarpone cheese
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of sugar or splenda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

Chop the strawberries (I actually halve them and then use pastry cutter to mash them up).  Add the other two ingredients and allow to macerate for at least 15 minutes.   In a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to whip the cheese until soft.  Add the cream, sugar/splenda and vanilla paste and whip until soft peaks.  Fold into the strawberry mixture.  You can serve immediately or chill covered in the fridge.

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