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Beach Plum Drops

Beach Plum Drops
Elspeth Pierson for NPR

This cookie recipe is adapted from one I found in a little cookbook devoted entirely to beach plums called Plum Crazy by Elizabeth Post Mirel (Parnassus Imprints Inc., 1973). If you live in an area where the fruit is abundant, this is an excellent book to have on hand. Not only does it have all sorts of creative recipes for beach plums, but it also has a good deal of information on the natural and cultural history of the plant.*

Makes 2 1/2 dozen bite-sized cookies

1 cup beach plums, pitted

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Add the beach plums, 1 cup of the sugar and the water to a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a vigorous boil for 1 minute, then turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Every so often, spoon out a little bit of the mixture onto a plate and allow it to cool. When the cooled mixture is the consistency of jam, turn off the heat. (You can also tell it's ready by watching the way the liquid falls from the spoon you are stirring with. When it begins to cascade back into the pot in a thick, constant sheet rather than dripping in individual drops, it is time to turn off the heat.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat in 1/2 cup of the beach plum mixture (the rest can be used on toast or saved for a later batch of cookies).

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and the baking powder, and stir these dry ingredients into the wet ones. Using roughly 1 teaspoon at a time, form the dough into round cookies and arrange them on a greased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Remove the cookies to a rack to cool and dust them with confectioners' sugar before serving.

*Note: Beach plums grow over a fairly wide range of the East Coast — from Maine to Virginia. But if you can't get them, you can substitute regular large plums, chopped to approximate the quantities.

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