Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Candied Plums (& Plum Syrup) | A Darker Shade of Magic


          Tucked amongst the soups, stews, pints, and unknown amber liquids, a certain food stood out to me in Victoria Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic; candied plums. Mentioned in passing to paint the picture of rich and lively Red London, these sugary delights wouldn't leave my mind after I put the book down and pondered what food to make to celebrate such a fantastic read. When I asked Victoria what A Darker Shade of Magic would be if it was a food (my go-to question for authors), she gave an awesomely specific answer instead for what each (well, 3 out of 4) London would be if it was a food–and she said Red London would be candied plums! (Grey London would be steak-and-ale pie, and White London, vodka).

"The subtle scent of flowers was lost beneath the aroma of cooking meat and freshly cut fruit, heavy spices and mulled wine. A man in dark robes offered candied plums beside a woman selling scrying stones. A vendor poured steaming tea into short glass goblets across from another vibrant stall displaying masks and a third offering tiny vials of water drawn from the Isle, the contents still glowing faintly with its light. Every night of the year, the market lived and breathed and thrived."

–Chap. 11, A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab


Note: The recipe below takes about a week, the reason being Science! Haha, you're simply replacing the fruit's water content with sugar. So whereas this recipe isn't difficult, it does require patience.  
          Also, because spices and mulled wine are mentioned in the plum passage of ADSoM, I decided to spice up the plums! It makes for a delicious syrup that you can use afterwards for various foods. If you'd like to omit the spices though, you can totally do so, without affecting the recipe.
          Coating the tops of the finished plums with fine granulated sugar is also optional (I sugared some and left some plain for some of the photos so you can see the difference), but after deliberation I think they look best sugared.
          This recipe is based on a candied fruit how-to on wewomen.com.

Red London Candied Plums
(And Plum Syrup)

Ingredients:
4-5 Red Plums (black plums are fine, too)
1 1/4 Cup Water
1 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
Several Whole Cloves
Fine Granulated Sugar (optional)

Directions:
1. Combine the water, sugar, & cinnamon & cloves in a deep pot on medium-high heat & bring to a boil. Turn down to a steady simmer for about 3 minutes, & then remove from the heat.

2. Cut the plums in half & remove the pits. Poke holes in the skins with a toothpick, & then lay them in the liquid. If they float to the top, place a small plate directly over them to push them down so they are completely submerged. Soak for 24 hours.

3. Remove the fruit using a slotted spoon & place them on a plate. Put the pot back on medium-high heat & add in 1/3 cup sugar. Bring to a low boil & cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Put the plums back into the liquid, submerge again with a plate, & let sit for another 24 hours.

4. Repeat step 3, 3 more times.

5. 5 days total have passed at this point. On the 6th day, remove the fruit as before as well as the cinnamon & cloves. Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the liquid. Bring to a boil, & then to a steady simmer. Add the fruit & heat for 3 minutes. Remove the fruit to a wire rack set over a tray & let sit for 48 hours. Save the beautiful red plum syrup for tea, ice cream, & more!

6. Dip the rounded part of the plums in fine granulated sugar (optional). Place the plums on slightly pressed down paper candy cups. Store in an airtight container, or you may store un-sugared plums in a jar of the syrup. They're also cute in little clear, candy gift bags tied with red ribbon, if you'd like to give some to your friends. 😊


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