Concord grapes arrived early this year, and I couldn’t be happier. Patience is a must: the longer on the vine, the sweeter the fruit; sunlight develops their sugars. Now they’re begging to be picked, burdening vines with tight clusters of purple-black orbs covered with bloom, the cloudy film on the surface of the skin.
Hardy and versatile, they’re as welcome in wines as in jellies and jams, a feat few cultivars can accomplish. Hats off to Ephraim Wales Bull, who won top honors at the 1853 Boston Horticultural Society Exhibition for developing these full-bodied beauties, named for the Massachusetts town where they first grew.
I like mine straight from the vine, but my friends look forward to the Concord Grape Sorbet (Sorbetto di Uva) that marks harvest time. It is the simplest Gourmet recipe I know, with only two ingredients: ripe, fragrant Concord grapes and superfine sugar. Pulverize the grapes in a blender or food processor, strain, stir in the sugar, chill and freeze. The glowing purple sorbet is pure Concord grape perfection.
This year I plan to expand my repertoire with a Peanut Butter and Jelly Tart, filled with homemade Concord grape jelly. This dessert dresses up those classic lunchbox flavors for a treat the whole family will love. I’m saving Wine Cake with Macerated Strawberries, featuring medium-dry Concord grape wine, for when the vines are bare, so I can enjoy my favorite grapes between seasons.
What will you do with your Concord grapes?
Posted in Recipes
Tagged desserts, Grape
Make the most of summer’s standout produce by adding a fresh fruit kick to sides, salads, desserts, and more. Find inspiration below with a few of our favorite plum-inspired dishes from across the Web:
Photo: Romulo A. Yanes
Salted caramel anything—sauce, ice cream, candy—has been the rage for a while, and I doubt it’s going to melt away. So I was screaming, “Eureka!” this morning, when I suddenly solved a problem with caramel that’s been vexing me for years.
I was making a salted caramel sauce, which means you begin by caramelizing the sugar. There are two ways to do it, one with water, and one without, known in culinary lingo as a wet or dry caramel. Plenty of colleagues prefer the wet method, but it takes longer, and I’m a tad impatient. I prefer a dry caramel because it’s fast, and it only requires sugar and a super-dry pan.
Whether you’ve made a wet or dry caramel, the real action begins when you add the cream, because it immediately bubbles up and the sugar hardens into a stiff mess. To get to a smooth, happy sauce, you have to continue cooking the mixture, stirring all the while, until the caramel dissolves. Continue reading
For years I’ve been cooking with wine to enhance the flavor of savory stews, soups, and pasta dishes. But recently I’ve been experimenting with a variety of flavorful alcohols to use in desserts rather than as an after-dinner drink. The result is an intoxicating flavor that delicately perfumes baked goods and desserts.
My first attempt at boozed-up sweets were Individual Grape and Vin Santo Cakes, which are dainty morsels enriched with the Italian dessert wine Vin Santo and studded with plump grapes. Next up, I’m turning to a dessert where my two favorite ingredients, whiskey and chocolate, really shine in Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake.
For a quick and refreshing dessert I’ll be sure to make on summer days, I’m turning to a simple Mixed Berry and Cassis Sundae. Raspberry sorbet and vanilla ice cream are generously topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and sweet syrup made of crème de cassis (black currant liqueur).
What’s your favorite alcohol-infused dessert?
I faithfully return every morning to my favorite coffee shop, but occasionally I’m inspired to consume my espresso in inventive ways. Although I’m eternally grateful to my barista, the lure of incorporating coffee into baked goods for a deep and sophisticated element is too hard to resist.
In these Cappuccino Brownies, coffee is paired, not surprisingly, with chocolate for a rich, harmonious flavor. The fudgy, espresso-infused brownies are layered with a cream cheese frosting and coffee ganache. But my next shot of espresso is going in Coffee Toffee “Pie” made with a crispy caramel crust, chocolate espresso filling, and topped with rum-spiked whipped cream for a look that is reminiscent of a frothy latté.
For an adult take on the classic root beer float, I’m trying the Caramel Espresso Float that ditches the soda for sweetened espresso and is finished with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and chopped nuts.
What’s your favorite way to cook or bake with coffee?
Lazy winter weekends are my favorite time of the year to bake up a storm while huddled in my tiny apartment. The preheated oven provides ample warmth, while a few stray chocolate chips or a bowl of leftover brownie batter are just the trick for staving off the cold-weather blues.
This weekend I’m adding a tangy twist to my dessert spread by baking up a Key Lime Coconut Cake. And if the citrus burst via slice of cake isn’t enough to transport me to a tropical island, then I’m resorting to Grapefruit Macarons, which sandwich grapefruit marmalade between light and crunchy wafers.
What is your favorite way to bake with citrus?
Ring in 2012 with maximum flavor and minimum fuss with recipes from our New Year of
Entertaining collection, now available in the Gourmet Live Store.
Kickstart your holiday celebration with Sparkling Ginger Cocktails served with our finger-friendly Feta Walnut Date Cigars that wrap cheese and nut filling inside flaky phyllo rolls. And for the ultimate sweet finale to 2011, serve up a slice of Chocolate Pavlova topped with whipped cream and fresh berries.
Download the free Gourmet Live app then head to the Library to access the Store for our New Year of Entertaining collection.
Photo by Tim Hout
The subtle taste of pumpkin merges effortlessly with coconut milk in this classic Italian dessert that is one of eight exclusive recipes from Gourmet Live’s brand new Ambitious Thanksgiving Menu. Get more exclusive recipes and download the free Gourmet Live app to complete your Thanksgiving feast.
Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cottas by Alexis Touchet
Makes 8 servings
Active time: 15 min
Total time: 6 1/4 hr
- 2 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin (more than 1 (1/4 oz) packet)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (a 13.5 oz can)
- 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup mild honey, heated to liquefy if solid