Prunes in Armagnac (Pruneaux à l’Armagnac), where have you been all our lives? We were only just introduced to this classic dessert from the southwest of France on our last trip to Paris. Starving from a day’s walking all over the city, and prepping for an evening finding the best views of the Eiffel Tower, we stopped at nearby restaurant La Fontaine de Mars. Normally reservations are required but we were lucky enough, and early enough, to get a seat outside. Our dinner was fantastic, but one of the dessert options stopped us in our tracks – Prunes in Armagnac with Prune and Armagnac ice cream. Wait, what? What’s Armagnac? Why with prunes? Is it made from prunes? Why put it in ice cream? This was one of the most exciting accidental finds on this trip, as far as new flavors and ingredients are concerned. Of course once we got home Paul couldn’t wait to read all about and find Armagnac, which is actually a French Brandy, and make these booze-soaked beauties, and I set about making the ice cream using David Lebovitz‘s recipe here. Fans of rum raisin ice cream will really enjoy this very unique flavor.
Prunes in Armagnac – Recipe by Pim Techamuanvivit (from her blog at Chez Pim)
In a small sauce pan, add the sugar and water and heat until boiling. Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of skin from the lemon, add them to the pot. Slice the vanilla bean in half, and drop them into the pot. When the pot comes to a boil, let it continue boiling for two minutes. Then, put the prunes in a medium bowl and pour the boiling liquid over it. Let the ingredients steep for 12 hours. After 12 hours, remove the lemon peel and vanilla pod. Spoon the prunes into a large mason jar. Pour the Armagnac into the remaining liquid in the bowl, mix well. Pour the contents of the bowl through a sieve into the mason jar. Close the jar tightly and let stand for at least two weeks, or preferably one month, before use.
To serve, place a small amount of prunes in a glass with some of the armagnac poured over the top. Finish with an optional tiny scoop of Prune and Armagnac ice cream.
Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream – Recipe by David Lebovitz (as published by the LA Times – adapted from “The Perfect Scoop”)
Place the quartered prunes in a small saucepan with the Armagnac and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Heat over medium-low heat just until the Armagnac starts to bubble. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand at least 2 hours. (The prunes can be macerated a few days in advance — refrigerate the prunes and Armagnac in a covered container or sealable plastic bag with the air removed.)
To make the ice cream, purée the prunes and their liquid in a food processor along with the sour cream, milk, the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Pulse the mixture until it’s almost smooth, but leave a few little bits of prunes remaining.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1 quart.