There’s something about the word “plum” — the way your tongue rolls up against your lips when you say it that instantly implies something sumptuous; something round and juicy and a little bit decadent.

Growing up in Southern California, I was raised and fattened every summer on the small red plums that grew on trees strewn around my neighborhood. Fragrant, juicy, and sun-warmed, you ran the risk of getting bright pink juice all over your clothes if you didn’t pop the whole thing in your mouth. Once you devoured it, you were left with the pit and the tart flesh that clung to it – such a delight to suck on. Those little red plums were proof that nature was sometimes best left to her own devices.

And so it wasn’t until years later that I even thought to eat one baked into a pastry. The bakery down the street from my boyfriend’s apartment made plum pastries that resembled Danishes – circles of croissant dough with a shallow well in the middle that was filled with some simple custard and slices of plums, and topped with a crunchy streusel. It was a nearly instant addiction.

Sadly, the bakery in question has stayed behind in Los Angeles while I have traipsed off to New York City, so it’s only on visits home that I get to indulge in those heavenly little treats.

With the end of plum season quickly approaching, I decided to take things into my own hands and come up with some sort of viable alternative. (I wasn’t about to make my own croissant dough!) I pulled up my old standby recipe for flaky pie dough and a recipe from a favorite blogger that had caught my eye a few weeks back – hers was a recipe for a hazelnut plum tart with a custard-and-plum middle that I thought just might make for the filling I so violently craved.

So here’s what I did: I made little plum dumplings. I suppose the technical term is “galette,” but dumpling sounds cuter. A galette is a very casual approach to pie, usually it’s just slices of fresh fruit folded up in simple dough and baked into goodness. I decided to experiment by pouring some custard into the middle and seeing what happened when I baked it all up. What happened? Magic — pure delicious end-of-summer magic.

Plums get very tart when baked and can even verge on the edge of bitterness, so the touch of custard cuts through that a little and mellows it out, while adding a nice richness against the flaky pie dough.

(Recipe continued on next page)