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OMG! What is it about prunes & chocolate that make such a seductive deep alliance? The under appreciated prune has a depth of flavor that many seem to overlook. This heavenly composition is knock-your-socks-off delicious - worthy of the fanciest dinner guests. Adapted from David Lebovitz in Food & Drink. Needs to be made ahead (great for entertaining!) as it needs at least 8 hrs, preferable overnight, for the flavors and texture to fully develop.
- 12 ounces prunes, pitted
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 1⁄3 cup sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups mascarpone cheese
- 1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1⁄2 cups espresso (or very strong coffee)
- 3⁄4 cup amaretto liqueur
- 3⁄4 cup brandy (Armagnac is ideal)
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely grated
- 12 ounces ladyfingers
- Prune filling - Combine the prunes with one-fourth cup sugar and 1 1/4 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the prunes to cool in the liquid. Add the almond extract when cooled. Purée the mixture. Set aside.
- Mascarpone cream - Whip the mascarpone with the heavy cream just until the mixture begins to hold its shape. Add the remaining one-third cup sugar and whip until soft and creamy, but not stiff, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Mix together the espresso, amaretto and brandy, then set aside.
- Spread one-third of the mascarpone cream in the bottom of a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Sprinkle one-third of the grated chocolate evenly over the cream.
- Dunk each ladyfinger in the espresso mixture, making sure they're submerged long enough to be thoroughly saturated. (Tear into one to make sure.) Create the first layer of the well-soaked ladyfingers, placing them snugly against one another.
- Spoon the prune filling over the ladyfingers and spread evenly. Use it all.
- Spread half of the remaining mascarpone cream over the prune filling and sprinkle with half of the remaining ground chocolate.
- Lay another layer of soaked ladyfingers, as above. If you run low on the espresso mixture, add more espresso to soak the ladyfingers.
- Cover the ladyfingers with the remaining mascarpone cream, then lightly sprinkle evenly with the remaining ground chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight before serving.