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I use a sheet of ready made frozen short pastry - and I have a frying pan that can go from the hob to a hot oven without setting the handle on fire… something similar is necessary.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Melt butter in a frying pan or tarte tatin dish.
Add sugars and stir until the mixture is thick but quite runny. Add the halved plums and then star anise and cook over low heat stirring all the time until the juices run into the caramel. It will spit so don't cook bare-armed.
When plums are softening, remove from heat and turn plums so they are all skin side down. Carefully cover fruit with pastry, tucking it down the side of the pan with a spatula... like tucking in a duvet.
Bake in a hot oven for 30 - 40 minutes. Turn frying pan handle AWAY from the door so you cannot reach out thoughtlessly and grab it; use a thick ovencloth to remove the pan.
Let everything cool slightly - this not only makes it easier to handle but gives the juices time to cool into the caramel and soak into the pastry.
Place the pan on a sturdy board - chopping or bread board or similar, and place a serving plate over the pan. Fold the oven cloth over the top ensuring plenty of heatproofing at the sides. Hold the pan and serving plate firmly on both sides and invert.
Remove the star anise bud and tidy the presentation up if the plums have shrunk.
Serve warm with weetened whipped cream.
The star anise and deep fruit flavours instantly suggest pinot noir.
Ones I've enjoyed recently are The Terrace Edge (Waipara) 2008 - a cordial plum and cherry nose, but a deeper more serious palate ($28ish) and the Waitiri Creek (Central Otago) 2007 which has a big rich nose and lots of dried fruit, Christmas cake flavor. $40.
I also can never go past an excuse to drink sherry. And this time, a sweeter one from Lustau. Their East India sherry has lots of mixed spices, Christmas mince and a sweet but not cloying finish. A wine for cold winter nights. About $30 for a 375ml bottle.
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