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Oct 9, 2006 04:21 AM

Black Grape Gelato by Marcella Hazan

I guess this is the weekend to shower Marcella w/ praise. While she isn't really known for her desserts, her black grape gelato from Essentials is rapturous. Juicy tartness balanced by sweetness and tannic finish, all mellowed by a whisper of cream. Luscious and complex, a red wine enthusiast would be seduced.

The recipe is simple: Heat 2/3 c. of sugar and 1/2 c. water over med. heat til sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Process 1 lb. of washed and stemmed black grapes through a food mill. Make sure to use the insert w/ the smallest holes to catch the seeds; a food processor is NOT a suitable alternative. Combine grape puree w/ simple syrup and cool. Once cool, whip 1/4 c. heavy cream til consistency of buttermilk. Blend w/ grape mixture, chill thoroughly, and then churn.

I had 1.5 lbs. of organic Concord grapes so increased everything by 50%. Quality of grapes is key here, so don't even try this w/ subpar grapes. I noticed some seeds and skin were floating around in the puree after milling, so I strained those out.

Photo of fresh grapes w/ one peeled so you can see flesh:

Photo of strained puree mixed w/ simple syrup:

Photo of gelato:

The intense mauve color is gorgeous and not really captured by my photo. I was skeptical about the addition of cream since I've found that cream can obscure fruit flavors, but that wasn't the case here at all. Texture was smooth and creamy w/ a tiny bit of iciness reminiscent of ice milk. Not a negative trait here. I can't see much improving this, although I may have to try a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate tomorrow...

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  1. Wow the sorbet looks divine! I will have to get concord grapes this weekend and try this recipe out.


    2 Replies
    1. re: virtualfrolic

      Try it and let us know what you think. While Marcella does call this "gelato" and it does have a tiny bit of cream, the texture is similar to a sorbet but not as grainy as some. Grapes are pretty pulpy, and she doesn't skimp on sugar. It stays relatively soft in the freezer.

      BTW, what other kind of grapes found in the US would fall under the "black grape" category? Marcella doesn't really discuss this in the book except to warn one against using the more common red grapes.

      1. re: Carb Lover

        I actually don't eat grapes that often - but I just can't resist Concord grapes! They look, smell and taste fabulous! Right now the greenmarket (in NYC) is full of them!

    2. Do you think I could puree the grapes in a blender and then strain, or would I get too many seeds? I'm trying to figure out a way around not having a food mill.

      BTW, when I clicked on the photo of that finishes sorbet my mind started chanting "Good eats! Good eats!"--in Chinese (it's what we say instead of "yummy"). I almost never think in Chinese, so it must have triggered some primal urge for ice cream that reaches back into my toddler years.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Pei

        IIRC, Marcella says no blender either. The main issue is that any blade will pulverize the seeds which will lead to a bitter flavor. I suppose one option would be to seed them by hand first (catching the juice), puree flesh and skin in blender, and then strain. I'm not sure if pulverizing the skin that much is a bad thing though (may contribute too much tannic bite); will have to check the book when I get home. I also think the seeds give it a little flavor when milled, so a food mill is really ideal.

        We got a food mill several months ago, and I love it. Use it all the time now for sauces, purees, gnocchi, and mashed potatoes. Husband bought me a sturdy stainless steel one as a gift (I forget the brand), but you could check restaurant supply stores for a cheaper, more lightweight aluminum model.

        Oh, and I'm flattered that the photo triggered such deeply-rooted urges. The black grape puree reminds me of Welch's grape juice but in a good way! BTW, the puree + simple syrup mixture is very tasty mixed w/ some club soda or sparkling water.

          1. re: Pei

            I know... now she's talking my language! Like I need anymore kitchen equipment! Carb Lover... is it a pain to clean?

            1. re: Katie Nell

              No, not at all a cleaning problem if you do it right away after use (I'm guilty of not always :-)). Dried potato and skin isn't a pretty thing. The inserts are removable, so it's pretty quick and easy. And the holes aren't as tiny as a fine-meshed sieve so it's easy to get out any gunk. Thanks to LindaMc who convinced me that a food mill was a good investment!

              1. re: Carb Lover

                Glad to know I'm not the only procrastinator when it comes to dishes!! I might have to look into a food mill then! (My husband is going to love you! ;-))

          2. re: Carb Lover

            Never NEVER blenderize the grapes. The seeds are bitter!

        1. Putting the grapes in a blender instead of a food mill will likely grind the seeds in Concords as well, resulting in a slightly vegetale flavor. If you barely pulsed them in a food processor, in small batches, it would be better. Obviously, a food mill is ideal, and once you have one, there's a lot you can do with it.