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Prunes In Armagnac (AKA Dessert In A Jar)

Prunes in Armagnac is a classic French combination that somehow feels very current. Simple to make but best after a few weeks of waiting, these make for a very lovely impromptu dessert – just serve with thick Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche.


I’ll get it out of the way at the beginning. Prunes. What a gag – the only dried fruit that’s also a punchline. But look beyond the stale connotations; the sturdy, unglamorous zipper bag they come in; their lowly position on supermarket shelves, and you will see a quiet hero that’s always been a trusted partner to classic flavours that’s now, whisper it, edging cautiously back into the spotlight; its sweet, rich, true voice just as startlingly good as it’s always been – except no one was listening before.


Think of the prunes in red wine with mascarpone at Etto, the highlight of every Instagrammer’s visit to the Merrion Row restaurant. Or consider the segment in the ‘Home Cooking’ episode of Ugly Delicious on Netflix [a must-watch – it’s like Bon Appétit in a programme] where Nadine Levy Redzepi serves David Chang & co macerated prunes during a cosy meal chez Redzepi – apparently she makes a jar of Armagnac prunes for her husband René every year on his birthday.


Watching him spoon the thick, rich, caramel-like liquid off a jar of prunes that had been macerated back in 2015, I decided I wanted to start my own jar of drunken prunes. And since it’s a classic, and I’d been thinking about it for weeks, I went all out and bought the Armagnac, which is quite unlike me. That said, please do note that brandy or cognac would work just fine either – really the most important ingredient here is time. And although the prunes are fine to eat – wonderful to eat! – after just five days or so, they’re only going to get better as the weeks and months go on. In fact, the longer you leave them, the more thick, syrupy and exquisite the liquor around them will become. So, prunes. Play it again, Sam. And stop laughing at the back.


Makes 1 medium-sized jar. After a few days (or, better yet, weeks) have elapsed, these will make a great, handy stand-by dessert – just serve a couple per portion with some of the liquor and a good dollop of thick, best-quality yoghurt or crème fraîche.


450g prunes

1-2 Earl Grey teabags

3 level tbsps caster sugar

250ml Armagnac, cognac or brandy

1 lemon

500ml boiling water

Sterilise a medium-sized kilner jar by rinsing with very boiling water and drying in the oven or cleaning in the dishwasher. Place the prunes in a bowl. Pop one Earl Grey teabag into the 500ml boiling water and leave to brew for a few minutes, adding the second only if it seems weak to the taste. Pour the Earl Grey tea over the prunes and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Drain off the liquid and transfer them to the sterilised kilner jar. Use a vegetable peeler to remove all of the zest from the lemon in long strips. Add these to the jar too. Sprinkle the sugar over the prunes then pour the liquour over the lot. Close the lid and shake it very gently to dissolve the sugar. Push the prunes down below the level of the liquid; do so every day for a few days, then just leave the jar somewhere cool and dark and let the magic happen.



8 comments on “Prunes In Armagnac (AKA Dessert In A Jar)

  1. This looks and sounds very delicious, have to try!!

  2. Romulo Osorio

    Just made this on my birthday the other day.
    Gonna try and age it for at least a year. Key word try because I think it’ll all get eaten before that.
    Thanks for the write up. Since watching the show I’ve been investigating this recipe.
    Curious where you found it.

  3. Thanks for the recipe. I’ve just watched the episode too and have come looking for the recipe. I too want to try to leave a long term batch to see what happens! Is this the same recipe that Nadine uses?

    • It’s not identical I think but very similar. These are such a brilliant thing to have on hand! A real treat. Enjoy 🙂

      • Thank you so much! ❤

      • Hey, Ellen! Curious, considering that this was posted a few years ago, what is the longest that you’ve found yourself successfully able to soak and age the prunes in Armagnac? Also, will these keep indefinitely due to the sugar and alcohol(through some light research, I found quite a lot of people saying anywhere from 2 weeks-1 year)?

        Was doing some light research into similar recipes for this, and most people are saying it MUST be refrigerated?

      • Hi Don! I’d say they would keep for up to a year, given the prunes are already fairly low moisture before the alcohol and sugar get added. I would defo recommend keeping in the fridge as a safeguard. That said, if you didn’t, I think it would be fine to just remove any mouldy bits to keep eating. But yes defo refrigerate if possible to get as long as possible from them. I kept mine for 6 months and they were perfectly fine

  4. Thank you so much! ❤

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