Panna Cotta with Stewed Grapes
Italian for "cooked cream", panna cotta sounds fancy but it's really very easy. The custard is smooth and creamy and the stewed grapes add a dash of color and sweetness. Use green or red grapes, whichever are sweetest. If you have muscat grapes, all the better. Garnish with a few grape halves and a sprig of mint. This is the quintessential autumn dessert that really pays homage to the noble grape.
TO DRINK: Moscato
2 tablespoons cold water
1 3/4 teaspoons granulated
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound sweet harvest grapes, plus
some halved grapes, for garnish
1/4 cup sugar, or more, if needed
Sprigs of mint, for garnish
To make the custard, place the water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside until the gelatin is softened, 5 minutes. Place the cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to medium, and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Watch closely so it doesn't boil over. Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Pour into six 5-ounce ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
In the meantime, to make the sauce, place the grapes and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the grapes fall apart, 40 minutes. Pass the grapes and their liquid through a food mill and strain out the seeds and skin. Taste and add more sugar if needed. If you do add additional sugar, make sure that you stir until the sugar is dissolved. If the sauce is too thin, reduce further until it begins to thicken and coat the back of a spoon.
Just before serving, run a small knife around the edges of the ramekins. Dip the molds in boiling water just until loosened. Turn out onto serving plates and spoon the sauce around the edges. Garnish with the halved grapes and mint.