Spiced plum butter with cocoa

 

Homemade plum butter, full of plummy sweetness. Gently spiced with cardamom and cinnamon. Rich with the darkest cocoa. Deliciously comforting, this is one of my favourite preserves to make. And with the abundance of plums, particularly Victoria variety here in the UK, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to stock up ahead of the cooler mornings when this is just divine spread thickly on some fresh bread.

What sets this preserve apart from others, is its richnes, intense deep flavours and naturally thick consistency. The butter is cooked for nearly five hours so a rainy afternoon like the ones we have been having recently is just perfect. Alternatively, the process can be split across two days with the initial cooking phase taking place one day with the preserve being finished the following day. Whichever method you use, I guarantee your house will be filled with the most delicious smell ever.

My Mum always made few jars of plum butter each year. I have fond memories of it being served as part of an early breakfast on a really frosty and snowy morning alongside a bowl of steaming hot milky semolina. Pure warming heaven and one I repeat quite often to this day. However, this is my personal twist on the family recipe as I’m adding two of my favourite spices and cocoa powder that takes this to another level all together. Somehow the bitterness of pure cocoa makes the plums shine even more whilst the cardamom and cinnamon  gently mingle in the background. It’s so scrumptious, I have to stop myself from eating this straight out of the jar!

Do use the freshest plums you can find. And best quality cocoa and spices too. The butter will keep for up to a year in sterilised jars if stored somewhere dark and cool. Make sure your jars are clean and either sterilised by being washed and dried on high temperature setting in the dishwasher or heated in a low oven (120 C) for fifteen minutes or so. And since the plums are high in pectin, there is no need to use jam sugar, just a plain white sugar will do. I like to cut my plums up before starting the cooking process as this ensures their skin softens quicker and I quite like them smaller in the butter’s texture. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 kg of plums, stoned and roughly chopped
  •  670 grams of white sugar
  • 8 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp of ground cardamom (I use Steennbergs)
  • 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon

Begin by placing the plums in a maslim pan. Set the pan over a very low heat and let them stew gently for about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the plums. You want them to be soft, including their skins. Do stir to ensure the fruit doesn’t burn. If you are short of time, you could stop at this point and pick up the next step the following day, this is optional. Make sure you bring the mixture up to a boiling point before proceeding with adding the rest of the ingredients if you do a two day process. I tend to make my plum butter in one afternoon when I can, something always very pleasing about starting and finishing one job in full.

Once the plums have collapsed and softened, it’s time to add the rest of the ingredients. Mix the sugar with the cocoa and the spices and add to the fruit. Allow the butter to cook further until thick and sticky, this will take some 30 to 45 minutes or so.

Carefully transfer the butter to your prepared and sterilised jars, ensuring they are filled almost to the top and keeping the edges of the jars clean. Cover with lids immediately, turn each jar upside down and leave to cool.

Allow a day for the flavours to develop. I find this helps to mellow to cocoa and however difficult the wait is, it’s definitely worth it.

Have it on toast or fresh bread. Or swirled through thick rice budding or breakfast semolina (you’ll find the recipe here). And if you have ever made my traditional maturing gingerbread cake, you’ll recognise this taste. It is almost like eating piernik straight from a jar! Enjoy x