Looking for a tasty pairing for your holiday guests? Why not try a modern twist on a holiday tradition. Instead of serving that door-stopper weight of a fruit cake, we recommend port fruit bars with Pedroncelli Port.
As part of their year-long 90th Anniversary celebration, the fine folks at Pedroncelli introduced us to their own limited selection vintage Four Grapes Port. They make it from three of the same grape varieties typically used in traditional Vinho de Porto produced in the Douro Valley in the northern Provinces of Portugal: Tinta Cão, Touriga Nacional and Sousão. Pedroncelli adds Tinta Madeira, a phylloxera-resistant grape frown on Portual’s Madeira Island. Pedroncelli’s Four Port grapes come from a four-acre vineyard established in 1995, planted in their Dry Creek Valley estate in Sonoma County, California. The 2012 current vintage Four Grapes Port, is Pedroncelli’s twenty-third. Paired with the port fruit bars it is amazing. Ready to drink now, the port can also soften with aging for another 10 years. Although port is typically consumed is a smaller glass, to serve to your guests, you will want to buy several bottles — a full 8 ounces goes into the dessert bars. You can purchase 500 ml bottles on their website for $20.00 each.
We love tasting with Pedroncelli because they always send us some incredible recipes for pairings, and even gift cards to buy the ingredients for the virtual tasting. They say their recipes are merely guides, and encourage us to get creative. We liked the fruit bars so much, we took them to a tasting we did for winners of our “In-Home Wine Tasting” auctioned off at Communities in Schools – Bay Area annual Raise Your Glass to CIS. They were such a hit, I’m making them again as treats for our favorite hairistas at Volume Salon, and our favorite guys at the local UPS Store 1581 in Clear Lake!
The Pedroncelli recipe was adapted by Connie Proctor, 3rd Generation Family Member. Purists can find that recipe here. Below is my own adaptation.
Adapted from Pedroncelli Port Fruit Bars
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 cup Pedroncelli Four Grapes Port
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
1 1/2 cups of chopped prunes
1 1/4 cups golden raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup dark (semi-sweet) over-sized chocolate baking chips
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
1. Gather your ingredients. We prefer farm fresh brown eggs from Kenz Henz Local Pastured Eggs. We also make our own vanilla extract, but you can purchase it at any grocery. We prefer light brown sugar.
2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, butter a 10 X 15 inch baking pan and line the bottom with baking parchment allowing at least 2″ – overhang on each of the 10 inch sides. Butter the parchment.
3. Stir together the flour, spices, and salt, then set aside.
4. Heat port to a simmer in a saucepan, remove from heat.
5. In a bowl, combine port with dried fruit then stir in 1 cup of the flour mixture to combine. Set aside.
6. Beat butter with brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla extract, add the remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
7. Fold in port fruit mixture, chocolate and pecans until evenly distributed.
8. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with no wet batter. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour on a wire rack.
10. Then remove from pan with parchment attached and allow to cool for another hour. With cake placed between baking sheets or cutting boards, flip upside down to remove parchment, then flip back to right side up, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars, 8 rows by 6 rows for 48 bars.
Savory Pairing Alternative
Gorgonzola or Blue cheeses also make excellent port pairings. We like it on a Ritz bacon crisp cracker.
To learn more about the Pedroncelli Family, their wines and more recipes, visit their website at www.pedroncelli.com
Happy Holidays from all of us at Another Wine Blog!