Crème au muscat et pruneaux au calvados

You must make the prunes at least a week and preferably a month beforehand. Do plenty … they are very moreish! (and they should keep for months anyway).

If you want to be less wicked, replace up to half the cream with milk – I did, with no ill effect on the final result.

8 oz pitted prunes, the best you can get
3 strips orange peel
4 oz caster sugar
2 strips lemon peel
1/4 pt. Armagnac, brandy or calvados
1 cinnamon stick
2 tea bags
3 oz caster sugar
8 fl oz Muscat or other dessert wine
2 eggs plus 4 egg yolks
18 fl oz whipping cream
3 oz vanilla sugar


Make a pint of tea with the teabags. Leave for 2 minutes, then pour into a saucepan (without the teabags, needless to say). Add the prunes, sugar, cinnamon and peels. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes (if the prunes are very tender I often don’t bother with the simmering — I put them straight in the jar with the hot tea). Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the brandy or whatever, transfer to a Kilner jar, and leave in a cool dark place for at least a week.

For the custard:

You will need 4 ramekins or dariole moulds. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Make caramel by melting the caster sugar together with 3 tbs water and boiling till it turns a nice golden brown. Pour it into the moulds and swirl it round to cover the bases. Use the same pan to heat the cream to boiling point. In another pan, bring the wine to the boil.

Whisk eggs, yolks and vanilla sugar together. Pour on the hot wine, stirring as you do so, then the cream. Pour through a sieve into a jug. Fill the moulds and put them into a baking tin; pour enough boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the moulds. Bake for 45 minutes, or until just set – do not overcook! Remove, cool, and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.

To serve, run a palette knife round the moulds to loosen, and turn out onto individual plates. Put two or three prunes on each plate and spoon over a little of the prune liqueur. Leave the jar of prunes on the table for second helpings …

You could probably make the custards in the microwave – I would say about 7 mins on a low setting, but watch them like a hawk and take them out before they appear to be done.

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