Will one of these land in front of me when I visit Southwest France next month?
This recipe from Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes (Paperback Edition, W.W.Norton, June 2012) by Adam Ried definitely has 'couleur locale' (local flavors) all over it with Prunes (pruneaux d'Agen anyone) and Armagnac.
Armagnac, the brandy from the Gascony region in southwestern France, may not be as well known as its more famous cousin, cognac, but it is certainly no second fiddle. Arguably, Armagnac tastes even richer and earthier than cognac. It’s usually drunk as a digestif after the meal, but it also pairs well with certain sweets, among them prunes, another product of the region. The combination shows up in cakes, tarts, custards, and ice cream (and as a classic accompaniment to foie gras), and of course, in milkshakes. At least in this book.
Armagnac and prunes are very distinctive flavors on their own, but I didn’t stop there with the combination. I mingled it with the common French practice of softening prunes in tea (often as a
nonalcoholic alternative to Armagnac) before baking with them. The tea is wonderful, adding both depth
and a flavorful backbone that highlights the prunes and Armagnac even further.
MAKES ABOUT 31/2 CUPS | 28 OUNCES | 850 MILLILITERS
8 or 9 small pitted prunes (about 2 ounces/57 grams), quartered
6 tablespoons strong black tea, hot or room temperature (about 3 ounces/90 milliliters)
1/4 cup Armagnac (2 ounces/60 milliliters)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 medium scoops French vanilla ice cream (about 1 3/4 pints/21 ounces/ 595 grams), softened until just melty at the edges
Place the prunes and tea in a small bowl and set aside to soak for 1 hour. Place the soaked prunes, the tea used to soak them, Armagnac, and vanilla extract in a blender and blend to break down the prunes completely, about 45 seconds. Add the ice cream and pulse several times to begin breaking it up. With the blender motor off, use a flexible spatula to mash the mixture down onto the blender blades. Continue pulsing, stopping, and mashing until the mixture is well blended, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar, roughly 30 to 90 seconds. Pour into a chilled glass or glasses, and serve at once.
Prune-Armagnac with Chocolate Variation
Follow the recipe for the Prune-Armagnac Shake, substituting 1 scoop (¼ pint/3 ounces/85 grams) of chocolate sorbet for 1 scoop (¼ pint/3 ounces/85 grams) of the vanilla ice cream.
(* Reprinted from Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes: 100 Thick and Creamy Shakes You Can Make At Home by Adam Ried. Copyright © 2009 by Adam Ried. Photographs copyright © 2009 by Andre Baranowski. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.”)