Recipe: Raspberry Wine Taffy

What’s a girl to do when her college roommate gives her four bottles of good Raspberry Syrup? Why, create a recipe using the syrup and WINE, of course!

Armed with the fore-mentioned syrup, I decided to play in the kitchen today. I didn’t want to waste the syrup, so I thought I’d make a simple reduction of the syrup and red wine that would drizzle nicely over desserts. While my end product didn’t exactly meet my expectations, it definitely wasn’t a total loss… I ended up with Raspberry Wine Candies!

I decided to start small… I poured 1/2 cup raspberry syrup and 1 cup red wine into a small saute’ pan and allowed this mixture to simmer for awhile. Note: I used Boordy Vineyard’s Chambourcin Merlot for this recipe, but I could have easily used James River Cellars’ Meritage… I just had an extra bottle of the BoRaspberryWineTaffyordy wine and wanted to use it up. I allowed this syrup/wine mixture to simmer for about 30-45 minutes – I wasn’t paying close attention to the clock and I was simply cooking the mixture until it reduced significantly and started to look “thick”.

Once the mixture had cooked down to the look of a heavy syrup, I added a dash of salt and a teaspoon of margarine. I stirred these two additions into the mixture and allowed it to simmer a little longer.

At this point, I probably should have removed it from the stove and used it as a drizzle for pound cake or ice cream. Instead, I continued to cook it until it was even thicker and looked as if a spoon could leave a trail down the center of the pan. I removed the confection from the stove and poured it into the Pyrex measuring cup (as seen in photo) to find that the entire mixture had reduced from 1 1/2 cups of liquid to a scant 1/2 cup of confection. It tasted lovely, but I had no idea what to do with it… so I popped it into the fridge.

An hour in the fridge allowed this recipe to thicken so much that I could manhandle a small spoonful onto a piece of waxed paper and eventually eat it as a soft taffy… hence the recipe’s name. I’ve never intentionally made taffy before, but this is what I thought of when I tasted it.

Next time, I’ll stop cooking this mixture earlier and allow it to cool so it can be used as a flavorful topping for ice cream or pound cake (as I mentioned before)… but maybe not. It’s kind of fun to create something totally unexpected!

Here’s to the unexpected sweetness of life… may we all create more of it to share with others!

Wine and Food pairing event

On November 10th, I participated in a wine and food pairing event at Sur La Table at the Stony Point/Richmond store… if you weren’t able to attend, for one reason or another, you really missed out on an amazing selection of food and wines.  There’s something so much fun about how the taste of a food changes when you add a specific wine… and this class did a wonderful job of showcasing that for all who attended.

My best friend, Lynne Just, is the resident chef at the Richmond Sur La Table and approached me about specifically pairing some of our James River Cellars for a cooking class.  It took some time to get everything organized, but I was really excited when the final menu came together.   Lynne came up with an appetizer, a salad, a hearty main dish, and a decadent dessert… and I got to help pair the wines we’d use.  I planned to attend the event, representing James River Cellars Winery, so I could explain our wines, but I also got to participate and do some of the cooking.  It was a BLAST!

The evening’s menu was as follows:  Blue Cheese Crostini with Applewood Bacon and Rad Red Wine-Reduction…. Roasted Beet Salad with Toasted Pecans, Goat Cheese and Merlot Vinaigrette… Au Poivre Ribeye with Merlot Sauce and Roasted Garlic Potatoes… Chocolate and Chambourcin Bread Pudding with a Caramel and Chambourcin sauce.  YUM!!

The wines that were used that evening were all from James River Cellars Winery.  We showcased Chardonel (a hybrid grape of Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc, created at Cornell in 1953) as we began cooking.  Our Rad Red (a dry blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot) was used in the reduction for the crostini appetizer.  Merlot (which sports our Monitor vs. CSS Virginia Civil War label) was used in the vinaigrette for the salad as well as the sauce for the steaks.  In true chocolate-lovers’ fashion, our Chambourcin was used in both the bread pudding’s genache and flavored the caramel sauce that was poured over at the end.  It was an incredible meal that allowed everyone to enjoy both the wines AND the food.

We’re already making plans to repeat this sort of event in the spring, so keep an eye out for advertising about this class.  We’ll share the information on both the Sur La Table site (where you would sign up and pay for the class) as well as on the James River Cellars website, Facebook page, and twitter account.   A lighter menu is in the works… maybe a fish dish for the main event?  We’ll have to see what will work best, but one thing’s for sure… we’ll have a fabulous time!  Hope you can join us…