Post-winter craving happens. Everything seems to have been a little monochromatic and bland comfort oriented for a while, and suddenly I have the urge for something bright, wild, exuberant. Even in my eating. Colorful stuff.
It doesn’t take much to make a richly rewarding, intensely violet (but not violent), dessert. What’s not to like about a Purple Pudding! Two vibrant purple ingredients: grape juice (2 cups of dark purple Concord + goodness) and a big heap of fresh or frozen blackberries (1 pound or about 4 cups). Add in a couple of essentially colorless ingredients. Some dried tapioca (6 T of the instant or ‘minute’ variety) and some elderflower syrup (1 cup). The process is equally easy. Put the blackberries and syrup together in a (nonstick) saucepan and bring them to a boil, stirring all the while. Once this is boiling, turn down the heat and keep it simmering until it’s reduced by about half. Fabulous jam! Soak the tapioca in the grape juice for at least 5 minutes—or, if you’re preoccupied with lots of other things like I was, overnight!—and then bring it to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove it from the heat. You can easily mix the two juicy gems together, grape and blackberry, at this point and serve it as one dish, whether hot or (as I like it) chilled, or you can serve them separately and let people spoon up whatever blend of the two they prefer.
And, if one would like it to add just a little kick, a splash of elderflower liqueur goes down nicely in it as well. But only a tot. I’ll admit that I was strongly considering using a bold red wine for part or all of the liquid in either portion of the recipe, but I decided this would take the dessert in a boozier direction than even I wanted. The fresh, lively flavors of the purple fruits should dominate, and the added attractions be lightly applied. Robust and vivid. Edible ‘dotted Swiss‘ textured by the tapioca bits and the blackberries. Light and happy. Seriously refreshing, playfully simple. Mighty tasty.
Why would I make this? Because I’m craving something fruity besides citrus and other wintry imports by now. Frozen berries can do the trick pretty neatly, if well-preserved. And blackberries are a decidedly delectable choice at any time. Their flavor has long seemed to be marvelously complemented by elderflower and rose, for some reason, so as I have the former on hand in a couple of quenching forms, it seems destiny to combine these friendly flavors. The bumpy texture or the blackberries is also amusingly paired with the softer bits of bumpy texture in good old tapioca pudding. And aren’t grape juice and blackberries both supposed to be superfood-ish-ly antioxidant and Good for Me? Surely, yes, as they make me wildly happy.