For this parfait, thinner-skinned plums such as the yellow ones are excellent if they are at hand, but the local blue prune plums that abound in many parts of Canada in the fall are equally as good.
The plum syrup can keep for a month refrigerated.
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1/2 vanilla bean
1½ cups water
1½ cups sugar
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
2-inch piece lemon peel
1½ pounds (750 grams) small blue plums, halved and pitted
1 cup mascarpone
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
4 sprigs lemon balm or mint
Slit open vanilla bean and, using a small knife, scrape out seeds. Add bean and seeds to a wide pot. Add water, sugar, cinnamon and lemon peel. Bring to boil over high heat and boil for 3 minutes.
Turn heat to low, add plums to simmering syrup and poach until tender (about 10 minutes). Let plums cool in syrup.
Remove 2 cups syrup and bring to boil in a separate pot. Boil for about 8 minutes or until the syrup coats the back of a spoon. It thickens as it cools.
Combine mascarpone, yogurt and honey. Place a spoonful of plums in the bottom of each of 4 parfait glasses. Drizzle over some syrup. Top with a layer of mascarpone cream. Repeat layers. Top with a sprig of lemon balm, another syrup drizzle and serve with a fancy cookie.