My dad has the most amazing garden, full with fruit and vegetables at any given time of the year. This is one of the many reasons I’m so fortunate to quite close to my parents’ house.
Appearing much like a fruit tart, beneath the gorgeous fresh plums and deeply flavored port, there’s a cheesecake-like filling, only soft like pudding, and not at all like cake.
Full with the flavor of vanilla, all of this sits on top of a delicious crunch of Oreo cookies.
(That’s a rhetorical question, of course.)
- About 5 fresh plums washed and dried
- 1 cup Ruby port
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 of a large vanilla pod
- 1 dozen Oreo cookies see notes for gluten-free version
- 2-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 12- ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature
- 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
Slice as large a piece as possible on each side of the plums, leaving the pit with a bit of the plum around it. Then put each of these pieces on a cutting board, round side up, and with a very sharp knife, cut as many thin slices as possible. (The thinner, the better.) Gently place them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and keep refrigerated until you're ready to use them.
Add the port to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until it has reduced by about half and is a thick consistency -- like syrup. This should take about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool when it's done.
Pour the cream into a small saucepan or sauté pan. Cut the vanilla pod in half, and use a very sharp paring knife to make a slit down the center of one of the halves. Then use the back of the knife, pressing down firmly, to scrape the vanilla beans directly into the cream. Add the emptied half of the vanilla pod, along with the vanilla extract to the cream, and place it over medium heat. Heat just until it begins to bubble along the edges -- it should be hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside for at least 20 minutes.
Use a food processor fitted with the blade attachment to finely grind the Oreos. You want the result to be smooth and without large chunks. Pour the ground Oreos into a small bowl and mix in the melted butter. Place four (4 X 2-inch, round) ramekins on a baking sheet, and add 1/4 of the Oreo mixture to each one. Using your fingers, gently press it to evenly coat the bottom of each ramekin. Set aside.
In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, vanilla cream mixture, and the sweetened condensed milk. Mix until it's very smooth and then add 1/4 of it to each ramekin, on top of the crust.
Place the baking sheet with the ramekins in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and ideally overnight.
Arrange the plum slices on top of each one, in any pattern you'd like, covering all of the cream mixture. Then, pour the (completely cooled) port glaze over the plums, dividing it evenly amongst the ramekins. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, and up to 6 hours before serving.
You can make the crust and filling a day ahead of time.
These are generous portions -- nice to share (though, I can easily handle a whole one). If you prefer smaller portions, simply use smaller ramekins. You can either adjust the recipe accordingly, or leave it as is and make more of them.