When life hands you grapes…

…make Grape Bavarian Cream

Adapted from Jane Grigson’s recipe

1/2 kg (1lb) green seedless grapes
125g (4oz /1/2 cup) caster sugar
(I used raw, golden Aussie castor sugar made from sugarcane, and I’m sure it added a delightful honey note)
4 leaves of gelatine
(lacto-ovo-vegetarians, let us know what you’d use. I found a so-called vegetarian gelatine, but it was made using the shells of some kind of beetle or bug, which kind of defeats the purpose, I reckon.)
Juice of half a lemon or lime ( I used lime)
1 scrunched up and smashed strip of fresh lemongrass
A sloosh of herbaceous, softly flavoured gin
(I used Hendricks, which was an unexpected, serendipitous flavour marriage. One day I’ll make this recipe with St Germain elderflower liqueur, which will probably summon fairies and elves to the bottom of the garden)
Obviously, the alcohol is optional
250ml (8 fl oz/ scant cup) pure cream, suitable for whipping

Remove grapes from their bunch, rinse well, and dry them off if you’re a bit fussy.
Jane Grigson opens her instructions by suggesting we “peel, halve and pip a quarter of the grapes”.
My servants all had the day off, so I skipped that step.
Put the remaining 3/4 of the grapes in a pan with the sugar.
Simmer gently until they soften and begin to burst.
Modern grapes have tough skins. This will take a while. Be patient. If you get bored, squish them a bit.
Impatient cooks will probably get stuck in with their potato mashers.
Once liquefying, add the citrus juice and lemongrass and simmer and stir gently for a little longer.

After a while, taste the molten grapey goodness, but be careful it’s hot!!
It will probably be far too sweet (modern grapes are bred for the sweet-toothed customer) so add more lime or lemon juice.
At this stage, you will definitely consider using less sugar next time.
When all liquefied, allow grape mixture to cool, then pass through a sieve or a mouli. Do not use a food processor or blender.
You want to have pure golden grape liquid, without any skins or pips.You should now have about 375g (or 12fl oz 11/2 cups).
Add a little water and/or more juice if needed.
Follow directions for your brand of gelatine.
Return grape liquid to the pan, and stir in the gin over a very low heat. This will help to reduce the alcohol content.
I added my soaked and squeezed gelatine leaves at this stage.
Move grape, gin and gelatine mix to the refrigerator, and leave until it’s the consistency of a fresh, raw egg white.
Whisk the cream until thick and light, with soft peaks.
I folded the grapey-runny-jelly into the cream, but Ms Grigson does it the other way round.
Set aside your prettiest grapes for decorating and stir the rest into the creamy lushness.
I placed a couple of grapes in the bottom of each serving glass, then gently poured the very lush cream into the glasses.
Cover each cup with cling-film (or you can use one “elegant dish” for the whole lot)
Place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. Can definitely be made a day in advance.
Decorate before serving.
Serves 4
Or 8, if being delicate

Nutritional information
More sugar, cream and booze than is good for you, but heck, you’re only going to have this once every summer, so go for it!
It has been suggested by at least one dairy-free friend that coconut milk and coconut cream whipped together would be a lovely substitute for the dairy in this recipe. This has me thinking that the fruit base for this could be pureed mango, or pineapple, maybe with rum, and possibly passionfruit and toasted shredded coconut on top…you get the idea.
I’d really love to hear from vegetarian and vegan folk: what setting agent would you use, instead of gelatine?

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