This post is in partnership with California Prunes. California Prunes have been grown for more than 150 years by generations of growers who have brought expertise and craftsmanship to the art of growing and drying prunes. They have created a unique heritage of pride and premium quality. In my opinion, there are no other prunes out there that taste as fresh and sweet as the California Prune. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep Flourishing Foodie delicious. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a one-of-a-kind experience learning all about prunes in the Sacramento Valley of California. I have always loved California Prunes from a young age, so getting the chance to visit a California Prune orchard to see firsthand how prunes are grown and processed was pretty amazing. I learned so much about California Prunes from growing, harvesting, and drying to the nutritional benefits and a few fun ways to incorporate them into meals. I am super excited to share with you what I’ve learned and also this delicious chocolate and prune cake recipe I developed below.
During the California Gold Rush, a French man named Louis Pellier and his brother Pierre brought over cuttings of “la petite prune d’Agen” from France. Later it became the dominant prune plum crop in the Santa Clara Valley. Today, California provides roughly 99% of the total United States production of prunes and 40% of the world’s supply of prunes.
There are a few things that make California Prunes different from any other prune in the world: the long growing season, the fertile soil, the warm sun, the cool evening temperatures, and the practice of drying prunes in climate-controlled tunnels. Seriously, they are the sweetest and most tender prunes I have ever tasted.
As a dietitian, you can imagine that I was very excited to learn all about the nutritional benefits of California Prunes.
Prunes are a perfect low-calorie snack. A single serving of 4-5 prunes contains under 100 calories.
Prunes contain natural sugars and have a low glycemic index, meaning that the rise in blood sugar is much slower, keeping you satiated longer.
A serving of prunes contains 3g of fiber. Including fiber-rich foods in your diet helps to improve digestive health and reduce symptoms of poor gastrointestinal health such as bloating, cramping, constipation, and heartburn.
A serving of prunes contains 280 mg of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that is essential for health. The typical North American diet contains too much sodium and not enough potassium. Studies have shown that increasing potassium intake can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
A serving of prunes contains 23 mcg of vitamin K which is important for bone health.
Prunes are good for your gut, heart, and bones.
I left the beautiful Sacramento Valley in California knowledgeable and excited about the nutritional benefits of California Prunes. I was eager to incorporate more prunes into my diet and excited to develop new ways to incorporate them into my meals. I started adding them to my morning yogurt and granola. I have now begun to incorporate them into healthy cookies, granola bars, and energy bites. I add them to my smoothies for a natural sweetener. I’ve even started experimenting with prunes and chocolate, a distinct combination. I came up with a moist chocolate cake recipe with Grand Marnier, and cinnamon soaked prunes finished with a dark chocolate ganache. It is the perfect recipe for this holiday season with notes of chocolate, prune, orange and cinnamon. Stay tuned for more California Prune inspired recipes!
Be sure to check out California Prunes online at www.CaliforniaPrunes.org and on social media @CAprunes.
CALIFORNIA PRUNE CHOCOLATE CAKE
prep time - 30 minutes
cooking time - 60 minutes
6 oz of dried California Prunes
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 1/4 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup + 2 tbsp of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
7 oz of 60 - 70% dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp of salt
2 1/4 tsp of baking powder
1/3 cup of Dutch-processed cocoa powder
4 oz of 60 - 70% dark chocolate
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 tbsp of unsalted butter
flaked salt or Maldon salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. Set to the side.
In a small saucepan, add the prunes, Grand Marnier, water, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer on low heat. Simmer until the prunes are soft, approximately 10 - 15 minutes. Once the prunes are soft, remove them from the liquid and discard the cinnamon stick. Save the hot liquid to the side. Once the prunes have cooled, chop them into small pieces and set to the side.
In a large bowl add the hot prune liquid, butter, and dark chocolate. Mix until melted and smooth.
Add the sugar and whisk until smooth.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture. Stir until just combined.
Add the chopped prunes and combine.
Pour the batter into the springform pan. Place into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 55 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the springform pan.
To make the ganache, heat the chocolate, buttermilk, and butter in a double boiler and whisk until smooth. Let the ganache cool to room temperature. Pour the ganache over the cake and smooth with a spatula. Let it sit for a few minutes. Remove the cake from the springform pan.
Sprinkle with flaked salt. Serve.
Can be stored on the counter for up to 5 days.