Imagine a breakfast or brunch or afternoon tea menu item at a Marketman garden cafÃ© described as:
Warm Prune Muffins with Cashew Butter
Features organic cashew fruit â€œprunesâ€ 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.
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 stardomâ€¦ After checking out several prune (dried plum) based recipes in mostly Western cookbooks, I zeroed in on a recipe from Nancy Silvertonâ€™s Pastries from The La Brea Bakery. This is her recipe for â€œItalian Dried-Plum Muffinsâ€ but altered to include the new local ingredients I discovered. She asserts that most folks donâ€™t buy â€œpruneâ€ desserts because of the word â€œprune,â€ but I happen to love prune cakeâ€¦ And the results of this recipe would surprise most home bakers, eaters and even prune detractorsâ€¦
First you need to chop up about 1 to 1.5 cups worth of dried cashew fruit prunes (use regular prunes if you canâ€™t find the cashew prunes) and stick it in a small saucepan. Add about Â½ 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 donâ€™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 soâ€¦ 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.
For the batter, you will need: 2.5 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, Â¾ 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 Â¼ 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. Donâ€™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 curiousâ€¦ 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 cafÃ©â€¦ of course you would be served with plates and cutlery, not plastic, styrofoam or paper boxes and plastic forks?! Any bids? :)
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… :)