Monday, May 29, 2017

Grapes In Cheesecake Cream with Toasted Pecans and Gingersnap Crumb Topping!

Envision succulent grapes enrobed in a luscious cheesecake cream with the added texture of lightly toasted, chopped pecans and crowned with a crunchy gingersnap crumb topping.

Is it a side dish or a dessert...I'll let you decide.  You know we Southerners love our sweet side dishes...so, naturally, we would serve it as a side...or, a dessert.  If I take it to a gathering, I'm just gonna put it on the table with all the other sides.  I tell you what, I'm just going to call it a dessert.  All I know is that it's absolutely delicious and satisfying...so much for that!

I was intrigued when I saw Trisha Yearwood making her grape salad on the Food Network.  She said everyone looked forward to it at get-togethers.  I'd never heard of a grape salad before.  When I made it; though good as it was, I decided it needed more complexity in texture.  After much thought, I decided to use more pecans (and toast them), all in the filling.  Then, I crowned the dish with a gingersnap crumb topping.  Va-va-voom...right on spot!!  It was perfect!  Now, I love it, along with everyone else!

        Grapes Smothered In Cheesecake Cream, Who Wouldn't Love That!
         But, Add Toasted Pecans and A Gingersnap Crumb Topping...Wow! 
                              
As adapted from Trisha Yearwood's Grape Salad, the Food Network and 
Southern At Heart's Gingersnap Crumble, the Food Network

Approx. 12 servings

Ingredients

The Gingersnap Crumb Topping
  • 1/2 c. finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs (process 9 or 10 prepackaged, about 1 1/2" diameter, cookies in a food processor, or use a mallet to crush in a quart-size freezer bag)
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour (for a nutty flavor, try bread flour)
  • 2 TB granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. fine salt
  • 2 TB cold, salted butter
The Cheesecake Cream-Coated Grapes with Toasted Pecans
  • 4 lbs. seedless grapes (red or green, or any mixture thereof...I did all red)
  • 1 c. medium-chopped pecans
  • 1/ea. 8 oz. pkg. full-fat cream cheese, or neufchatel cheese,  room temperature
  • 1 c. (or 8 oz.) sour cream (I used light, or reduced fat)
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions
  • Remove the grapes from the stems, run under cool water, drain and thoroughly dry with a clean dish towel.  Set the grapes aside on the towel to continue drying.
  • Toast the pecans lightly, tossing over medium heat in a small skillet, or toast gently in the microwave on high in 15 second intervals, stirring between intervals. Set aside to cool. 
Make The Gingersnap Crumb Topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients and work in the butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter.  Keep in large crumbles and don't mix too thoroughly.
  3. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Carefully lift the parchment paper with the baked topping off the pan and transfer to another pan or cutting board to cool.  Store in a covered container until ready to use.
Make The Cheesecake Cream-Coated Grapes with Toasted Pecans 
  1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, mix well the cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla.
  2. Add the grapes and carefully combine.  Gently incorporate the toasted pecans.
  3. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13" baking dish and refrigerate until cold, at least an hour.  Just before serving, sprinkle with the gingersnap crumb topping.  
  4. Improves with flavor in a day or two and will keep well in the refrigerator for about a week.
                                            Yes, I Had It As A Side...
                                  Now, I'm Gonna Have It For Dessert!

Well, there you go...you could enjoy this easy, delectable dish as a side; then, have it as a dessert without having to make two dishes!  Now, who would do that?  Ha! :)

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