To me, cooler temperatures means one thing: dark liquor season. And while I love a good whiskey, Calvados and Armagnac are my favorites; they mimic the warming fall fruits that seem to be bubbling out of everyone’s baking dishes this time of year. But before the apples and pears take over fully, I like to take advantage of the fleeting tiny Italian plums still at the market. They have a tart, almost dark-berry-like sweetness that pairs especially well with a brandy like Armagnac. I like to blanket them with an Armagnac-infused custard that I then brûlée. The intense heat makes a nice crust while concentrating the plums' caramel flavors. All it needs is a tap of confectioners’ sugar on top.
It's the perfect dessert to kick-off to my new column, Dessert Tonight. Each week I'll give you an easy dessert, be it a simple cookie or full-blown fruit dessert, to make use of whatever produce is in season at the moment. I'll focus on one or two ingredients to pick up at the farmers' market—everything else will be a pantry staple. And you'll be able to make the whole thing in under an hour, so you can whip it up on a whim. Just the thing when you walk by those peak-season strawberries or perfumed clementines, or, like me, you get the overwhelming urge to eat brandy-soaked fruit after a long day.