Concord grape & cocoa crumble

Concord grapes are one of my favourite fruits (certainly my favourite kind of grape). They are only available for a short period , in September, and they have an especially intense and sweet flavour. In Italy, we call it “uva fragola“, which literally means “strawberry grape“, highly appropriate to their in-between kind of flavour.

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In Tuscany, they use to bake a focaccia folding in these grapes, which is really excellent. Here, however, I decided to go for something far less traditional, but equally good: a very Anglo-Saxon crumble. I really like that the overall texture of fruit crumble is the result of balancing two equally important opposites: crunchy crumbs and juicy fruit. Get the balance wrong, and you will end up with equally unpleasant soaked-type or hard-rock-type crumbles. Luckily, it’s not that easy to get it wrong and concord grapes fit my idea l crumble really well, because they can become very soft without “liquifying” excessively.

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This crumble’s crumbs are a combination of whole wheat flour, rolled oats, brown sugar and cocoa. I find the dark cocoa really pairs well with the sweetness of the grapes and the spices in the filling, yielding a nutty, bitter-sweet finish. As for the filling, I kept it as simple and “pure” as possible, adding only a little bit of sugar and a hint of cinnamon and cardamom (it’s fall after all!). The result is very very satisfying!

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Ingredients (for reference, I used a 9-inch pie plate):

For the filling:

  • 2 cups concord grapes (abt. 350 g)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

For the crumble:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (90 g)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (45-50 g)
  • 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter (70 g)

 

Preheat the oven at 350°F.

In a medium bowl, mix well the grapes, honey, 2 tablespoon sugar and spices. Slightly grease a pan (I used a regular 9-inch pie plate) and pour the filling in it. I don’t like adding thickeners (e.g. starch or flour) to the filling of pies or crumbles, because I find the thickener alters the flavour. Concord grapes are not the juiciest fruit either, so I found that this was not a problem in this particular case.

In a second bowl, mix the flours, oats, cocoa powder and sugar. Add the butter cut to pieces and mix with your fingers until you get a crumbly mixture in which the butter is uniformly distributed as possible in small bites.

Pour the crumble over the filling, being careful to uniformly cover the fruit. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Let it rest a bit before devouring.

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