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"Do you expect me to talk, ice cream maker?"
"No, Mr. Plum, I expect you to die."
This was the conversation between me and the plums I was roasting into submission last weekend. I have little to offer in my defense other than the delirium that results from proximity to a 500 degree oven in 95 degree heat.
But some acts of thermostatic foolishness are worth it. Especially when plums are involved. There's nothing more alluring to me than a bawdy, lush, perfectly ripe plum. Except one that's been roasted within an inch of its life. Sweet plummy juices, barely contained in the fruit to begin with, run wild. The flesh buckles under its own weight, turning to jam while the skin singes all marshmallow-like. A roasted plum is more sweet and tart than its fresh counterpart, and incomparably more rich. Eating one is a sensual experience, almost uncomfortably so.
So this is the mindset that had me roasting plums on a sweaty Saturday afternoon. All because I had some perverse idea of delayed gratification: to turn this hot mess into a refreshing ice cream for later. If my timing was right, it'd be ready for dessert on Sunday. And I need a soothing frozen tonic on my Sunday nights now, because Sundays mean work the next day and that means waiting on sticky, crowded subway platforms—a seasonal hell for which I require some fortification. As much as I love roasted plums, I have no desire to become one.
Here's what you need to know: roasted plums are more than worth the time and heat, especially when mixed with fresh ginger, all spice and sass. Blend these with some cream and sweeten with honey for a complex but mellow finish. The result is something at once caramel-sweet, spicy, and tart. It's everything plums can be and more.
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About the author: Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.You can follow his exotic spice- and ice cream-based ramblings on Twitter.