I’m never sure what to bake at this time of year. It’s too early to jump into fall recipes and I’m not particularly inspired to make anything summery. I’m in some kind of self-imposed baker’s limbo. A huge dry-erase calendar hanging in my office has October, November and December all chicken-scribbled with recipe ideas, but these last few days of August and all of September- empty.
After much thought, a recipe was created to suit these in-between days. Cold and creamy panna cotta reminds me of summer, and a tart crust made with toasted pecans and a hint of cinnamon appeases my longing for fall. You can use whatever berries you’d like for a garnish, but I favor the noble grape for this particular tart. Tiny red seedless grapes are a perfect fresh bite, especially when marinated in melted grape jelly and Framboise.
(Bunchkins Black Corinth Table Grapes are good, if you can find them.)
Another thing in my life that is having an identity crisis at this time of year… my closet. For me, collecting clothes is a close second to collecting recipes. I’m presently caught in between having to wear my summer clothes and lusting after fall’s new arrivals. I’ve been overly eager to put away summer threads, so today I bagged an embarrassing amount of clothing for charity. In my giveaway bag – my purple suede boots. A personal clothing relic. A once esteemed item that I can’t seem to bring myself to get rid of because it reminds me of carefree times. I wore them in the 80’s through an unfortunate hair band phase, and to too many nighttime concerts in the 90’s. The last time I donned them was 10 years ago when I wore them to a New Year’s Eve party, but they’ve not seen the light of day since.
A few hours ago I fished them out of the giveaway pile and put them directly on my feet and now I’m sharing them with you. I’m guessing that most of you have your own version of purple suede boots. I may never be emotionally ready to give up them up.
I suddenly feel like a John Hughes movie marathon.
Panna Cotta Tart with Marinated Table Grapes
Marinated grapes: [printable version]
1 1/2 cups small red seedless grapes
1/4 cup concord grape jelly, melted
1/4 cup Framboise, Chambord, or other berry flavored liqueur
- Wash and dry grapes.
- Combine melted grape jelly and liqueur in a medium bowl.
- Pour in freshly washed and dried grapes and toss to coat.
- Store covered, in refrigerator until ready for use.
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted (this can be done in a skillet over medium heat until pecans are fragrant)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, kept cold
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the pecan halves and light brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse in short bursts to gently combine. Add flour, butter, cinnamon and salt and pulse until mixture forms large clumps. Remove dough and press into the bottom and up the sides of an oblong tart pan with a removable bottom (size approx. 14×5). You may need to flour your fingers a little for this.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool completely.
- When cool, place baked tart crust in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until frozen. Do not skip this step! Liquid panna cotta will seep through the tart dough if the crust is not frozen.
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 packet (.25oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 tbsp cold water
- In a small bowl or condiment cup, sprinkle gelatin over the cold water. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until liquid has been mostly absorbed.
- In a heat-proof 4 cup measure, heat heavy cream and sugar in the microwave until very hot – about 2-3 minutes in a standard household microwave (or heat on stove in a saucepan). Remove from microwave (or heat source) and pour in vanilla; stir.
- Using a small rubber spatula or spoon, scrape gelatin mixture into the hot cream mixture. Stir until gelatin is completely melted.
Note:You will probably have a little liquid panna cotta left over (about 1/2 cup), so have a small ramekin ready in which to pour the remaining panna cotta.
- Remove pan with crust from freezer and place on a baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet with pan in the refrigerator.
- Using the 4 cup measure, pour the liquid panna cotta into the tart crust, filling it to the top. It is much easier to do this with the pan in the refrigerator, that way the liquid won’t slosh out of the pan when you move it.
- Let the panna cotta set, uncovered in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
- Before unmolding, use a hot-water-rinsed dish cloth that has been wrung dry to press against the sides of the tart pan. This will allow for easy unmolding in case any of the panna cotta has seeped through the sides of the crust.
- Top with marinated grapes and enjoy.