October 20th is National Brandied Fruit Day. Brandied fruit—fruit salad flavored with brandy or cognac—is a dish that has fallen out of fashion in the era of modern cuisine. But it is easy to make, delicious to eat and very healthful.
Brandied fruit can be enjoyed on its own; or with a topping of sour cream or yogurt (plain or vanilla), blended with a bit of brown sugar. Add a plate of small cookies and you’ve got a fine dessert.
You can also use brandied fruit as a topping for angel, pound or sponge cakes; and under or over a scoop of sorbet.
Serve it in a pretty glass dish, a goblet, or in a meringue nest.
START WITH THE FRUIT SALAD
The best fruit salad is an appealing mix of colors, flavors an textures.
Mix brandy with fresh fruit salad for a sophisticated and healthful dessert. Photo © M. Studio | Fotolia.
Cut larger fruits into even pieces; seed the grapes and pit the cherries. If you’re using fruits that brown, sprinkle the cut fruit with lemon juice. Slice bananas just before serving, as they discolor most quickly.
SIMPLE BRANDIED FRUIT
The easiest version is simply to sprinkle brandy over a fruit salad; cover and refrigerate for an hour or more. We actually mix a tablespoon with the fruit juices from the salad; then toss to ensure that all pieces are coated.
You can also add some mint leaves to the marinade. Before serving, remove them and replace with fresh mint leaves.
COOKED BRANDIED FRUIT
You can also brandy a fruit compote, which is mixed stewed fruit. These should be the best seasonal fruits, full of natural sweetness and flavor.
Here’s the recipe for compote.
BRANDY OR COGNAC
As the saying goes, all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.
Cognac is grape brandy, a distillate of wine. It is specifically produced in the region surrounding the town of Cognac, in central France. It is double distilled using pot stills and then aged for at least two years. It must be made from a specific group of white grape varieties, as well.
Grape brandy can be made anywhere, from any grapes (brandy is also made from fruit and pomace), does not require double distillation or long aging.
Cognac is a better product. The double distilling and aging rounds out the spirit and produces more mellow flavors.
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