This is hardly a recipe -- really just a flavor combination and a simple method for coaxing the best out of not-quite-ripe fruit. Feel free to experiment with other fruits, such as peaches, apricots or even cherries. —Merrill Stubbs
Rinse and dry the plums. Halve them and remove the pits, then slice each into 6 vertical wedges. Put them in a bowl.
Put the sugar in a smaller bowl. Using a sharp paring knife, split the vanilla bean down the center and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the sugar and stir with a fork to distribute the vanilla seeds.
Sprinkle the vanilla sugar over the plums and toss gently with your hands to combine. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and spread the plums evenly over the paper. Heat the broiler, with an oven rack positioned about 5 inches from the flame. Broil the plums for a couple of minutes, watching them carefully, until the sugar begins to caramelize. Cool slightly before serving, either on their own or with a scoop of ice cream or creme fraiche.