Serve this delicious dessert at any event and I guarantee that every one will love it and you won’t have any leftovers. This is one of the best ways to enjoy a dried plum. The Vanilla-Wine Syrup I make for this dish has the sweet, floral flavor of vanilla bean that complements just about any fruit. It also adds to the prunes juiciness and makes them plump and shiny. You can add other flavors to the syrup, such as strips of lemon or orange zest, spices, or herbs such as basil or rosemary, but for me the combination of fragrant vanilla and good wine make this syrup just right. —Kukla
For the Walnut Stuffed Prunes and Vanilla-Wine Syrup
• 2 cups dried petted prunes
• 1 cup toasted walnut halfs or quarters
• 1 ½ cups good red wine, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 moist vanilla bean, ( I used Mexican)
For the Mascarpone Cream
• 1 cup chilled whipping cream
• 4 oz Mascarpone cheese
• 2 tablespoons vanilla-wine syrup
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( I used Mexican Real Vanilla)
Start by picking the best large and plump dried prunes, which are easier to work with and they have more flavor. If your prunes are too dry, soak them in room temperature water for 1 to 2 hours; then drain and dry well with paper towels.
The dried prunes have an opening in them where the pit was removed. Take a tea spoon and using the handle carefully widen the opening. Place a half or aquarter of a walnut inside so it will be fully covered by the prune. Arrange stuffed prunes in a shallow dish in one tight layer. Sat aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the wine and sugar. With a thin sharp paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half. Scrape out the seeds and add the seeds and bean to the pan.
Simmer over medium heat until reduced to about 1 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the hot syrup and pour it over the stuffed prunes (save the vanilla bean). Cover and let stand for a couple of hours or even better chill overnight in the fridge.
To make the Mascarpone Cream: Using an electric mixer beat cream, Mascarpone, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla- wine syrup in large bowl until smooth and medium peaks form.
To serve: Evenly divide the stuffed prunes between nice glass serving dishes. Pour some of the vanilla-wne syrup over the prunes and a dollop or more of the Mascarpone Cream. You can also sprinkle some crushed walnuts as a garnish.
Note: Even after they have been cooked, scraped vanilla bean pods have a lot of flavor. To make vanilla sugar, dry them well and place in a jar of sugar for at least 2 weeks, adding more as you have them.