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Prunes in Armagnac with Creme Fraiche

Prunes in Armagnac with Creme Fraiche
This is an adaptation of a famous recipe served in Gascony, a region of southwestern France where Armagnac—a smooth, dark, aromatic brandy—is made. Candied oranges, sometimes called glacéed oranges, can be used in place of the fresh ones. Look for high-quality candied oranges in specialty-food shops; use 1 cup, cut into 2-inch pieces, and add them during the last 10 minutes of cooking. This dessert is traditionally served in a pitcher, with the prunes on the bottom and the crème fraîche on the top, although it is equally sensational served in large wineglasses. You can prepare the prune mixture up to 3 weeks in advance; store it in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

  • 2 navel oranges, unpeeled
  • 3 cups pitted whole prunes
  • 1 cup Armagnac or other high-quality brandy
  • 1 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups crème fraîche

Directions:

Cut the oranges in half vertically. Cut each half crosswise into slices 1 inch thick or into wedges.

In a heavy-bottomed 1 1/2-quart saucepan, combine the oranges, prunes, Armagnac, orange juice, water and cinnamon stick. Place over medium heat, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring gently every 10 minutes and adding more water if the pan becomes too dry, until the prunes are very soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 35 to 40 minutes. The liquid that remains should be very thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, discard the cinnamon stick. Spoon the fruit and the syrup into 6 to 8 bowls or wineglasses. Top with the crème fraîche and serve.
Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Fruit Desserts, by Lora Brody (Time-Life Books, 1994).