Prune Whip (Aka “How To Disappoint Your Dinner Guests”)

A few years ago I was at a function for 4H, and a speaker was talking about how the dairy industry was trying to do some better marketing for cottage cheese. The speaker said that cottage cheese consumption had really declined since the 1950s in the U.S. The dairy industry’s response was to update its image by selling cottage cheese in individual portions with a variety of seasonings. That made me think that the plum farmers need to do the same thing for prunes.

Prunes used to feature heavily in the dessert section of cookbooks, but when was the last time you even saw prunes on a school lunch menu? They’re just not as cool as they used to be! Nowadays prunes are mostly known for their “medicinal” qualities. They are definitely not in the elite group of fruits elevated to dessert level. Personally, I like prunes. They make a healthy, chewy snack; they pair well with roast pork, and they’re good stewed as a side dish.

Prune Whip is a recipe I kept coming across, so I figured it must be pretty good to be mentioned so frequently. I did a little online research and found an article in the Dallas Observer that claimed that Prune Whip was president Eisenhower’s favorite dessert. That got me thinking that this must be a real gem of a dessert. I mean, a man with a professional cook staff ready to prepare his heart’s desire chose this as his favorite dessert! I even verified this by finding it listed in the Eisenhower Archives to be among the president’s favorite desserts along with rice pudding and floating islands. This should have tipped me off that Ike liked his dessert very bland.

I’m not saying that prune whip is bad. It’s not. It’s more flavorful than either rice pudding or floating island. It’s plummy with a little brightness of lemon. The consistency is somewhere between fluffy and pasty. But, I let Ike get my hopes too high. It’s nothing that I would go out of my way to eat again. As a dessert it’s high in fiber and low in sugar and fat, so if that’s important to you, then I recommend it. At least I knew what it was; the poor guests who mistook it for chocolate souffle were more disappointed than I. Oops!

History: One of the many fruit whips that were popular in the 1800s and early 1900s. It was still popular in the U.S. in the 1950s when president Eisenhower named it as one of his favorite desserts.
Time and Effort: Easy peasy and quick.
Worth adding to your repertoire: Maybe if you’re looking to healthify your desserts.

Recipe:
Prune Whip
2 Cups pitted and cooked prunes
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
4 stiff-beaten egg whites
Puree prunes. Add lemon peel, juice, and 2 tablespoons sugar; blend well. Add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to egg whites; beat until stiff. Fold prune mixture slowly into egg whites. Pile lightly in greased baking dish. Bake in at 350 degrees for 20 t9 30 minutes. Serves 6.
Can serve with whipped cream or custard sauce.

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