Blueberry Grappa Sauce

July 18, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Serves: 4


  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar, plus more to taste
  • 3-inch long piece lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon grappa
In This Recipe


  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!

More Great Recipes:
Condiment/Spread|Blueberry|Fruit|Grappa|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Summer|Dessert

Reviews (11) Questions (1)

11 Reviews

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.
Author Comment
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!
Author Comment
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?
Author Comment
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)
Author Comment
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!