Italian Prune Plum Crumble

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Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

I have to admit: Until recent years, I was scared to death of these little things.

Are you kidding me: “Prune” in the same sentence with “dessert?” No, thank you. Prune plums are tiny and mean looking. If you don’t know any better, they look like they taste terribly sour.

And, they have a pit.


Call it leftover 8-year-old-fear-of-weird-food rearing its head in my (questionably) grown-up self, but they never seemed to belong in anything that I would even think of ingesting. Much less in dessert. I mean, to sum how I used to feel: Yuck.

I didn’t get over it until well into my late twenties. And I’m still kicking myself that it took me that long.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

In recent years, prune plums have become one of my fondest fall darlings. When baked, they’re sweet, sticky, and jammy—and make a perfect filling for a bunch of different desserts.

In this crumble, they’re nestled under a blanket of buttery, crunchy oatmeal topping that’s dotted with sliced almonds.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

About prune plums

Prune plums have a brief season, and are around for only a few weeks in the early fall. (Look for them when you start to see pumpkins.)

They’re about the size of an egg and have dark purple or blue skin. Even when ripe, the inside flesh is yellow. When baked, the color from the skins seeps out and turns the cooked fruit a lovely ruby tone.

When buying them, choose plums that are fairly firm—not super soft. Look for smooth skin, and avoid any that have a wrinkle-y or loose skin. They’ll likely be mealy. Ripen prune plums on the counter, then store in the fridge.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

I was so excited when they finally showed up at Haymarket, Boston’s biggest public farm market, a few days ago.

If you can’t find prune plums, this crumble is delicious with regular plums, peaches, and even apples. It’s one of those messy, rustic desserts that is great eaten on its own, or with big scoop of ice cream (ginger is my favorite with this).

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Italian Prune Plum Crumble

Filling
1 lb. Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 Tbls. flour
2 Tbls. Chambord (or other raspberry/black raspberry liqueur)

Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup sliced almonds
6 Tbls. butter, cut into small cubes

Makes 1 9-inch round dessert

Grease a 9-inch glass pie pan lightly with oil or butter and set it aside. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

How to deal with the prune plums

Grab your prune plums.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Cut each plum in half.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Remove the pits and stems (and the little hard, knobby thing that the stem is attached to).

Prune plums are easy to pit because they’re a “freestone” fruit—as opposed to their larger, more difficult “clingstone” cousins.

Cut the plums into quarters. Leave the skins on. They melt into the filling as the crumble bakes.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Repeat with the rest of your plums until they’re all pitted and quartered. Put the plum quarters into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Make the plum tart filling

Toss in the brown sugar and flour.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Add the Chambord (or other raspberry liqueur).

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Mix gently until all the ingredients are combined. It won’t seem like it at first, but that little bit of liqueur—plus the juice from the plums—is enough to turn all the dry ingredients into a thick, sugar-y paste.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Transfer the filling to your greased pie pan. Be sure to scrape out any sugar that’s sticking to the bowl.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Your filling should almost fill the pan to the top.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Make the crumb topping for the tart

Put the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, sliced almonds, oatmeal, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl, if you’re mixing by hand).

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the butter. (By small cubes, I mean cut the butter about the size of a regular die—or one of those little square Laughing Cow cheese bites.)

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Mix on medium-high to break up the butter and incorporate it with the rest of the ingredients. (If you’re not using a stand mixer, squeeze the butter and dry ingredients together with your hands repeatedly to soften the butter a little and smoosh them together.)

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

You’re aiming for a coarse meal texture.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Like this (odd-sized bits of butter are just fine):

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Assemble the crumble!

Sprinkle the crumb topping over the plum mixture.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Try to spread it evenly, but don’t make yourself nuts. This is a rustic dessert. It’s OK if bits of plum are poking through. In fact, the juice they release when baking will help form a pretty pattern on the top of the finished dessert.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Bake, serve, and enjoy!

Pop the pan into your pre-heated 375-degree oven. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

You want the topping to be brown and the filling to bubble up on the edges.

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Yank it out of the oven when it looks about like this:

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Cool it on the counter and serve warm or at room temperature. (It’s good cold, too, but you really don’t get the full flavor of the fruit that way.)

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy! Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

Italian Prune Plum Crumble at The Hungry Mouse

 

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

15 COMMENTS

  1. I have two prune plum trees. In fact, to me these are THE plum, since they’re the ones I knew growing up. 🙂

    They truly are the most delicious things. Nicely-textured, complex-tasting flesh, and a tart skin. And the pits are no hassle at all, they’re the very definition of free stone.

    Oops, I run on. This looks good, but I made something similar a few days ago with halves, and the skins still seemed kind of intrusive, in an unpleasant way. I wonder if chopping into quarters helps. I certainly don’t want to go to the trouble of trying to peel them.

    What do you think?

    • Oh my goodness! You have prune plum trees! I would love it if I could just run out in the yard and pick them on demand. Yay. (Hey, did you plant them from the pits by any chance? I saved mine and was going to see if I could get them to root…no idea if it would work.)

      Hmmm, I’m wondering about the skins. I’ll bet quartering them would help. Or even cutting them into smaller pieces. (I mean, the whole thing basically cooks down to jam.) The skins weren’t an issue at all for me with this crumble. Maybe it’s the *particular* plums I got, or maybe I cooked mine longer or at a hotter temperature than you did with yours?

      I’m with you, though. I couldn’t see myself peeling them. Give a holler back if you try it again and let me know how it goes?

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

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