09 Aug2007

prune3

Imagine a breakfast or brunch or afternoon tea menu item at a Marketman garden café described as:

Warm Prune Muffins with Cashew Butter
Features organic cashew fruit “prunes” from Palawan steeped in cognac, and baked into a moist and dense coffee-flavored, butter and yogurt based muffin, topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. Served with organic cashew butter on the side. Superb with a cup of coffee or tea.

prune2

Lately, I seem to be daydreaming in terms of descriptive menu items at a totally mythical (but very lush and green) Marketman operated restaurant, bakery or cafe. And when I discovered those amazingly unique cashew fruit prunes at the Luzon Fair at Megamall yesterday, I immediately searched for a recipe that might be an appropriate vehicle to launch this ingredient into local baked goods stardom… After checking out several prune (dried plum) based recipes in mostly Western cookbooks, I zeroed in on a recipe from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from The La Brea Bakery. This is her recipe for “Italian Dried-Plum Muffins” but altered to include the new local ingredients I discovered. She asserts that most folks don’t buy “prune” desserts because of the word “prune,” but I happen to love prune cake… And the results of this recipe would surprise most home bakers, eaters and even prune detractors…

prune1

First you need to chop up about 1 to 1.5 cups worth of dried cashew fruit prunes (use regular prunes if you can’t find the cashew prunes) and stick it in a small saucepan. Add about ½ cup of cognac (I used Courvoisier which was a bit extravagant, but I also suspect this would work with a good rhum), though I used almost a cup, and two tablespoons of sugar if using the cashew prunes as they don’t seem to be as sweet as dried plums. Heat this up and mix until sugar is dissolved and the brandy just starts to gurgle. Set aside and let this steep overnight on the kitchen counter. You may place this is the fridge for up to 3 days or so… the brandy flavor will mellow the longer you let it steep. Drain the prunes in a sieve and you are now ready to make the muffins.

prune4

For the batter, you will need: 2.5 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, ¾ cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 tablespoons of finely ground fresh coffee (ground coffee beans, not instant powder), 1 cup of good butter, cubed and frozen, 1.5 cups of plain yogurt, 2 large eggs and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract. For the topping, mix together 1 tablespoon of white sugar with ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and coffee in a food processor and blitz to mix. Add the frozen butter while blitzing until it is just incorporated and there are no big blobs of butter. Don’t overblitz. Empty the flour mixture into a large bowl and make a crater in the middle into which you pour the yogurt and eggs and vanilla. Use a fork or whisk to mix everything up. Add the prunes steeped in brandy, reserving a few to place on top of each muffin. Lightly butter 12 muffin tins and fill with the batter, topping each muffin with a few prune slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 23-25 minutes. The results? I thought they were very, very good. The flavor of cognac was a bit strong, which I liked but others may not, but overall this was a great muffin. It showcased the Palawan cashew fruit prunes nicely and noticeable coffee/vanilla flavor, the moistness and density of the muffin were all really quite impressive! You could also add chopped roasted cashew nuts for another layer of cashew. Definitely a keeper of a recipe. Delicious. But I am curious… to finish off my menu entry, I needed to put a PRICE next to this item. And while I can figure it out based on ingredient cost, I was curious how much you guys would pay for this item if you were ordering it at the mythical Marketman café… of course you would be served with plates and cutlery, not plastic, styrofoam or paper boxes and plastic forks?! Any bids? :)

prune5

P.S. I packed up two of these muffins and sent them to the folks at the Luzon Fair who sold me the cashew fruit prunes… I hope they liked them and get some ideas on how to use them in baked goods… Also purchased two more bottles of cashew butter… :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. corrrine_p says:

    MM, how does the taste of cashew fruit taste compared to regular prunes? This looks like a really good recipe. Will try this.

    Aug 9, 2007 | 8:33 pm

     
  2. Marketman says:

    corrrine, it tastes very similar but not as sweet. Actually, by themselves, they are reminiscent of a dikiam, that slight fermentation apparent; but once steeped in brandy, they are soft, flavorful and similar to a standard prune…

    Aug 9, 2007 | 8:36 pm

     
  3. ragamuffin girl says:

    I immediately requested my mom to get me the tomato jelly and cashew nut butter after reading your previous post- it’s coming to HK in a week! I am so excited. How do I use the tomato jelly? The puto looks so fresh and yummy wish I could have some now.

    I buy 10-12 HKD (roughly P60-70) muffins here, my faves are the zucchini-walnut and carrot bran. I don’t know how much muffins in Manila cost nowadays, especially at the higher-end bakeshops, but I would gladly pay the same amount for one of these babies. Especially if I know the ingredients are specially sourced and not something easily found in supermarket shelves.

    I remember the best aligue I’ve had the good fortune to cook and eat- it came from a college batchmate from Pampanga whose mom would lovingly pick out all the aligue and bottle them herself. We got them in batches for an old resto I used to run, and whenever we ran out it was heartbreaking to tell customers because we never wanted to try any other brand. I don’t think the mom makes them anymore but I am happy with the ones sold at The Blue Kitchen.

    My dream is to open up a store here in that sells “gourmet” (high-quality, lovingly-made and beautifully-packaged) provincial specialties like Abra coffee, duhat vinegar, flavored lambanog, aligue paste, tapang usa like you mentioned in the email and so many others. I want the world to know we have good stuff. :)

    Aug 9, 2007 | 8:41 pm

     
  4. tulip says:

    I like prune cake and I love anything with cashew.I will surely love this muffin! I wonder when will that mythical cafe/bakery be transformed into reality… I might just always drop by and get my supply of that muffin, one for dine in and lots for “to go”! I have tried some pricey $3/muffin in SF or NY and I say the taste was forgettable (but not the price, obviously). With your muffin I dont think its too much to pay $3(around Php135)…but that will include the tea.hehehe..I wonder how big those muffins are, it might be justifiable to pay more for a huge one.

    Aug 9, 2007 | 9:59 pm

     
  5. tings says:

    Oh how kind of you to send them muffins! Oh yeah, I live across megamall… is there any chance those muffins can find their way here too? Hahahaah! Kidding.

    You know, I wish I can afford you to cater when my baby’ baptism comes heheheh. But till then, I’ll be glad to be your first imaginary costumer to your mythical Marketman Cafe, which works well for me as my high salary is also non existent :-))

    Aug 9, 2007 | 10:09 pm

     
  6. abby says:

    oh the pictures of those muffins got me quite drooling(^o^)

    Aug 9, 2007 | 10:38 pm

     
  7. Betty Q. says:

    Years ago (before I got married), I was the pastry chef of Vancouver’s premier seafood restaurant called the Cannery. You could try making stewed dried cashew apple together with other dried fruits in armagnac, bottle them and have them during those cold rainy nights (warmed up of course) with vanilla bean ice cream. OR how about substituting those dried cashew apple in place of dates and make a warm sticky toffee pudding, OR food for the gods …I could go on and on and on….

    Aug 9, 2007 | 11:43 pm

     
  8. millet says:

    so glad they’re doing something else now with the kasuy fruit aside from wine. these muffins look delicious, MM! we used to make muffins, too, with the kamias and balimbing prunes that we made. the balimbing seeds would taste nutty.

    Aug 9, 2007 | 11:46 pm

     
  9. kaye says:

    i would say i’d pay 75-85 per piece since am sure all your ingredients are top quality and you won’t use regular dari creme butter on those.. i’d love one with lots of butter please!! yum!

    Aug 10, 2007 | 12:04 am

     
  10. Maria Clara says:

    They look very inviting. Nice way to start a day with these muffins! I love prune cakes with Armagnac. Cognac is the balancing pole here and to replace it with brandy or rhum I wonder if the muffins taste the same and save the cognac for libation. How about cut the liquor in half and do not drain them and use the liquor in the batter too to bring out the flavor more and get the most out of it? You were able to whip up 12 muffins which are quite substantial plus your sweat, overhead, gas, mortar and gravel and sand – a hardcore foodie would burn 80 bucks for this new find. 960 bucks is not even enough to cover your ingredients. It needs more tweaking to make it affordable so they will come back to Market Manila Patisserie and establish a book of clientele!

    Aug 10, 2007 | 12:52 am

     
  11. Jade186 says:

    Hard to say. In Metro Manila I think a reasonable amount that I would shell out for a good muffin would be around Php25-35.

    Aug 10, 2007 | 1:30 am

     
  12. tulipfleurs says:

    I’d like to place an order for a dozen of those muffins please Market Man via DHL or FedEx? :-) Well, here’s another recipe that I would love to try but first I still have to “attempt” making the Calamansi Muffins! I just had lunch so now I’m picturing your muffins as “dessert!” Have a good one . . . Thanks to you my mouth is forever drooling! :-)

    Aug 10, 2007 | 3:31 am

     
  13. Apicio says:

    I hope the tannin in the cashew fruit itself does not give the dried ones the same fast-acting laxative property as dried prunes or plums so slightly overdosing on them does not necessarily culminate in a moving experience.

    Washing and steeping dried fruit use to be an optional practice (using noble eau-de-vie is certainly optional) but if you noticed, raisins processed in the open as presumably they do in Iran, Turkey and China reach us here with all sorts of impurities, mostly gritty material like sand. You skip this washing and plumping process at the risk of ending up with extra-crunchy baked goods.

    Aug 10, 2007 | 4:50 am

     
  14. CecileJ says:

    Mmmm, they probably taste as good as they look!! (And I noticed some creativity in photos, esp the muffin n courvoisier one! Nice shot! But the one with the cashew butter looked like it had a, uhm, moving experience, too. If you know what I mean. Hehe.)

    Would willingly pay about P60 for a taste considering the expensive ingredients used and the laudable motive of elevating use of local produce. But on a regular basis, too expensive for my income!

    Apicio, you win as best commenter, hands down! Prunes really move me, too! ;)

    Aug 10, 2007 | 9:00 am

     
  15. Cumin says:

    Another good one, Apicio, you are an essential spice in this blog. Makes my day each time you leave a comment.
    MM, maybe sell your stuff at the next EB, proceeds going to charity? Do tell us more about this school you’re supporting.

    Aug 10, 2007 | 10:03 am

     
  16. brenda says:

    hmmm… given the cost of the prunes at P35/pack and you used only 1 to 1.5 cups, (although you did not mention how big or small the pack is)I would bid Php50 for each one of them knowing that it will be served with plates and cutlery plus the ambiance in your mythical MM cafe…. will you be the one to serve these? heheheheh

    Aug 10, 2007 | 10:09 am

     
  17. lee says:

    60 to 70 pesos for the muffin, 40 to 60 for brewed coffee. A hundred bucks for a muffin/coffee combo would be fair.

    Aug 10, 2007 | 10:26 am

     
  18. Jennifer says:

    Love cashews! Tobi cashew peanut butter can be found in most major supermarkets. Its ok, but tonight I’m going to dream about your organic cahew butter…

    Aug 10, 2007 | 10:47 am

     
  19. titashi says:

    i’ll be one of your first imaginary customers MM, for a really good muffin, i would say i’m willing to pay 80-100 pesos per muffin, if i order with good coffee or tea another 60 or 70 pesos maybe. will you have a service charge too MM? hehehe…..

    Aug 10, 2007 | 10:49 am

     
  20. zeph says:

    I wouldn’t mind paying about 60 to 85 bucks, I bet some would even pay twice as much for a Mrs. Fields just to buy into the brand. Of course, hard-core Market Manila fans are expected to go into a bidding frenzy, after all MM, you’re almost a brand we buy into everytime we visit. On the subject of prune cakes and muffins, has anyone ever tried Becky’s Kitchen Prune Walnut cake? Heavenly!

    Aug 10, 2007 | 10:57 am

     
  21. Jen Tan says:

    Wow Mr. MarketMan! That those muffins look absolutely delicious!!!! I love prunes =)

    Aug 10, 2007 | 1:10 pm

     
  22. Blaise Fortuna says:

    I happen to love prune cake too.. I wonder what would these taste like.. Btw, I was the OTOP yesterday.. there were very good finds in there.. I bought the citrus fruit from Nueve Vizcaya which I gave my grandma and she absolutely liked it.. I was also able to taste the cashew wine (was it wine or some alcoholic beverage), surprisingly sweet.. Then I also got the California Mango shake.. It’s simply wonderful.. I just wish they were marketed more..

    Aug 10, 2007 | 1:51 pm

     
  23. meekerz says:

    Looks yum! I’d pay around 35 bucks for a cupcake size, maybe around 60 for a huge muffin ;)

    Aug 10, 2007 | 3:25 pm

     
  24. belle says:

    Very clever! I’m learning how to bake, I’m 21 and just got my first oven, this looks like a pretty easy recipe.. Thanks!

    Aug 12, 2007 | 7:31 am

     
  25. dhayL says:

    so, do we need to make a reservation to your MarketMan Garden Cafe just to sample your mouth watering Prune Muffins with Cashew Butter??? ehehehe

    Aug 13, 2007 | 3:37 am

     
  26. Lei says:

    i would willingly pay 50 to 75 pesos for the muffins, 75 say for the coffee.

    price of dining in marketman’s restaurant? priceless!!!

    oh, and let’s not forget that to complete the menu, maybe aside from the mouth-watering desciptive menus, maybe you can probably acquire the services of Apicio to give some very informative and unique anecdotes about the ingredients/recipe.

    Aug 13, 2007 | 1:35 pm

     
  27. fit gourmand says:

    Where can I find/buy cashew butter, not just mixed with peanut butter? How do I make it myself? And can I use other nuts, like walnuts? This sure is healthier than peanuts..

    Dec 4, 2007 | 2:52 pm

     
 

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