Illustration: Holly Exley
We usually call for roasted fruits in the fall when a little extra heat is needed to coax out their juices. Here, tart ripe plums mellow and soften in the oven while their juices create a lovely glaze. The balsamic syrup can be made ahead and kept in a glass jar at room temperature. If it gets too thick after sitting, return to a simmer for a minute or two.
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine plums, butter, and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar in a bowl; toss well to coat. Arrange plum mixture on prepared pan; bake at 425°F for 15 to 17 minutes or until plums begin to soften and release their juices. Remove pan from oven; cool slightly.
3. While plums roast, bring sherry to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer 8 minutes or until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Add vinegar to pan; cook 12 minutes or until mixture is reduced to about 1/4 cup, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Cool 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
4. Place about 1/2 cup plums in each of 6 shallow bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon crème fraîche and 2 teaspoons vinegar mixture.