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Concord Grapes

I hadn’t tried a Concord grape until I was an adult, and it was quite a revelation. Growing up on red and green seedless grapes from the supermarket, I always questioned the flavor of grape candy and bubble gum—it didn’t taste like grapes! When I first tried a Concord grape a few years ago at Chicago’s Green City Market I was speechless. Ohhhhh, that is where artificial grape flavor comes from! What a confusing chronology to experience a flavor in it’s artificial form for so long before trying the real thing. I still find myself surprised by the flavor every autumn when Concords reach the market.

Concord grapes are hard to find, and are only available for a few weeks at the start of fall. Green City Market [1] is a good place to look, I have also seen them at several Whole Foods Markets in Chicago. When you see them, pay whatever price they are charging to get some! Then make this tart which was featured in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living. It is the perfect early autumn dessert and the recipe yields enough Concord grape jam so that you can make the most amazing PB&J with the leftovers. If you fall in love with Concord grapes like I did you might want to check out David Lebovitz’s grape sorbet recipe [2].

I think this tart is a good base to experiment with different types of jams, I can imagine it being particularly nice with fresh apricot jam or even raspberry but it is truly exceptional with grape. Martha suggests serving it with crème fraîche, which is a perfect accompaniment, but I also think it would be interesting to serve this as part of a cheese course. The jam is very sweet and it might be nicely balanced by some good fromage.

Concord Grape Jam Tart

serves 8 to 10

Dough:

Jam:

Make the dough: Pulse flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until mixture just begins to hold together. Shape dough into two disks. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour (or up to two days).

Make the jam: Combine grapes and lemon juice in a medium non-reactive saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until grapes release their juices, about 7 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve (you should have 1 1/2 to 2 cups of juice). Return juice to saucepan over high heat, stir in granulated sugar and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer rapidly until mixture reaches 220° F on a candy thermometer, about 8 minutes. Transfer jam to a bowl to cool, stirring occasionally as it sets. The jam should be thick and spreadable.

Assemble: On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk of dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Transfer one round to parchment-lined baking sheet, and fit the other round into a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim edges flush with tart pan. Freeze both until firm. Using the wide base of 2 pastry tips, or anything else you can find, cut clusters of holes in dough on baking sheet and return to freezer until firm.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Spread 1 cup of jam over dough in tart pan. Brush top edge of tart dough with egg. Slide remaining round on top. Press edges to seal and trim excess dough. Brush top with egg, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Bake tart for 15 minutes, then gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Return to oven and bake until golden brown and bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Unmold, and transfer to a platter. Serve with crème fraîche.