5 Ingredients or Fewer

Blueberry Grappa Sauce

July 18, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

As a rule, I don't like dessert sauces. But now there's one that I can tolerate. That's only because it's not too sweet, isn't pureed, and it finishes with the sting of grappa. I came up with the recipe because I like to make an almond cake for my husband's family when we're on summer vacation together. But to serve cake, and cake alone, on Long Island in August, when there are so many fresh berries hanging around, feels criminal. Is criminal! So I began making a "sauce" by plumping the blueberries in sugar syrup. Next I added booze -- sometimes rum, sometimes wine, sometimes brandy or grappa. I don't let the blueberries break down -- rather, I warm them through, then fold in fresh blueberries just before serving so I get the gravity of a cooked sauce with the insouciance of bright, unadorned berries. All you need is a cake, ice cream, a dollop of ricotta or Greek yogurt, and the punctuation to a summer feast is complete. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar, plus more to taste
  • 3-inch long piece lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon grappa
  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup blueberries, the sugar, lemon zest, and grappa. Bring to a simmer, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar, about 3 minutes. A purple tinted syrup should form but the blueberries should not break down. Add more sugar to taste -- the sauce shouldn't be sweet, it should taste like heightened blueberries. Fold in the remaining fresh blueberries. You're done!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Renee
  • Fran McGinty
    Fran McGinty
  • AntoniaJames
  • Sagegreen
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

13 Reviews

Renee September 1, 2019
I made this last night to go with Panna Cotta and it was fantastic. My dinner guests all grew up where wild blueberries were plentiful so they "know" blueberries - everyone raved about the sauce! I did add a little less sugar and little more lemon rind.
Amanda H. September 1, 2019
Great to hear this!
D July 25, 2014
Grappa is not a brandy BTW. Yes, it is made from grapes but is made from the peels and other parts of the grape after crushing. It is then fermented and distilled. It is not aged and therefore doesn't have any color unlike a brandy. The flavor depends upon the type of grape material used primarily. Someone asked me in a check-out line what grappa was one time and I responsed it is Italian moonshine. It has many of the same attributes and instead of corn it uses grape mash.
LanaVuk June 22, 2014
2 shots of grappa. One for the sauce and one for the cook.
Amanda H. June 23, 2014
Like your style.
HomeRemedy June 20, 2012
Is that almond cake recipe posted somewhere already? Sounds delish with the blueberry sauce!
Amanda H. June 24, 2012
This is going to sound horribly self-promotional so please forgive me in advance but the recipe for the almond cake is in my book The Essential New York Times Cookbook. I've made the cake probably a hundred times or more -- hope you'll check it out.
Fran M. October 16, 2011
What is Grappa?
Amanda H. October 17, 2011
Grappa is an Italian grape-based brandy, similar to French marc. You could use regular brandy or even bourbon instead.
AntoniaJames August 18, 2011
Made this the other night with some delightfully tart, end-of-season blueberries from my bushes out front. Served it with Pamonha, a Brazilian corn dessert posted by VanessaS. Outstanding!! ;o)
Amanda H. August 18, 2011
Blueberry bushes out front? No fair. Love when people pair recipes within the site -- always interesting!
AntoniaJames August 19, 2011
17 bushes to be exact . . . when in full swing, we were picking two gallons a day; we could have picked more, but just didn't have time. We're down to a couple of quarts every few days; next week they'll all be gone. Most of what we picked are in jars; the majority contain hot pack in light syrup with a touch of spirits (rum, brandy or gin) and/or spice, to be enjoyed over sour cream cake, waffles, ice cream, pancakes, etc. in the dead of winter. With what we pick this weekend, I'm definitely putting up at least a few small jars of this. ;o)
Sagegreen July 18, 2011
Really nice!