Monday, July 22, 2024

A Perfect Dessert Recipe Paired With Wine

One of the perks of of being a chef and a cookbook writer is getting to learn from the best in the industry. While shooting books, I get to spend extended hours with the amazing and talented in the restaurant world.  

Pairing wine with savory foods I’ve been fortunate enough to spend half my life learning from the greats.  Not so much with sweets until I shot The Wine Lover’s Dessert Cookbook with Jennie Schacht  and Mary Chec.  The First Lady Of Chocolate, Alice Medrich, sums this book up best:

This book is an instant jumpstart, a quick and confidence-inspiring way to start learning and practicing the art of serving wine with dessert…Great new work, And yes, I wish I’d thought of it myself!

The recipes and pairings are the bomb.  Here are two of my favorites. Enjoy this deliciousness this weekend while peaches and nectarines are in season!

Photos by Frankie Frankeny
Photos by Frankie Frankeny

Fresh Mango-Nectarine Crumble

In this twist on the typical crumble, we’ve baked up a buttery topping to be scattered atop macerated fruit just before serving. Try adapting this with other fruits in season—peaches and blackberries, apricots and cherries, mango and crushed lychees, Fuyu persimmons and seedless tangerines.

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Making the Match

The fresh fruit and buttery topping pair well with many wines, from a light muscat to a rich ice wine. Audubon Cellars Late Harvest Chardonnay (California) mirrors both the tropical and stone fruit flavors in this dessert.

Makes 6 servings

Crumble Topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into julienne strips
  • 2 ripe nectarines, cut into paper-thin slices
  • 3/4 cup Moscato d’Asti, or the wine you will serve with the dessert
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice


To make the crumble topping: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and sprinkle evenly with the vanilla. Use your fingertips to pinch and rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse cookie crumbs. Spread the crumble onto an ungreased baking sheet, squeezing a bit to make granola-like clumps. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice for even baking. Place the baking sheet on a rack to cool.

While the topping bakes, prepare the fruit: Combine the mango and nectarine pieces in a medium bowl. Add the wine, 1/4 cup sugar, lime zest, and lime juice, and stir gently to avoid breaking up the fruit, adding sugar to taste, if needed.

Pile the fruit into six dessert cups and drizzle each with a tablespoon or two of the juices from the bowl. Scatter the crumble topping over the fruit.

Photos by Frankie Frankeny
Photos by Frankie Frankeny

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Fresh Peaches

Panna cotta, or “cooked cream,” is quintessentially Italian in its simplicity. The trick is to use just enough gelatin to set the cream without compromising its silky smoothness. Here, buttermilk adds a tangy contrast and peaches complement the wine. You could easily substitute berries, plums, or other fruits in season, varying the wine to match them.

Making the Match

Peaches pair well with the muscat canelli grapes used to make Asti and Moscato d’Asti. We love this with La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti (Piedmont, Italy). This also matches well with a delicate, late harvest white wine without oak and not too sweet or heavy, such as a demi-sec Vouvray. Look for a wine with fresh stone fruit flavors that pick up on the peaches, rich cream, and tart buttermilk.

Makes 4 servings

  • Vegetable oil for ramekins
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream with no additives
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 ripe yellow peaches, preferably freestone
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Lightly oil four 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Pour 1/4 cup cold water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface. Let soften for 5 minutes.

Gently warm the cream and sugar in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. A drop should feel warm but not hot against your upper lip. Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the softened gelatin for at least 1 minute until it is completely dissolved. Stir in the buttermilk. Divide the mixture among the prepared molds and place them on a plate to cool until they are almost room temperature, about 1 hour. Refrigerate until the panna cotta is set, about 3 hours or up to 4 days. The cream should move in a single jiggle when you shake one of the molds. To avoid condensation, wait until they are completely cold before covering tightly with plastic film.

Prepare the peaches up to 2 hours before serving. Working over a small saucepan to catch their juices, peel the peaches with a sharp knife and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick wedges. Gently stir in brown sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice a little at a time, adjusting to taste, to bring out the flavor of the peaches. Gently warm the peaches to dissolve the sugar and slightly soften the fruit. Cool to room temperature.

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Just before serving, run a thin, sharp knife around the inside of the ramekins to loosen the cream, then invert each into the center of a broad-rimmed soup bowl or serving plate. If the panna cotta does not release easily with gentle tapping, insert the knife between the panna cotta and the ramekin to coax the cream out. Place peach slices decoratively over and around the panna cotta, spooning some of their juices over the top.


Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in the US by Entertainment Weekly , Frankie captures images for some of the best names in culinary.  

Frankie has helped create: The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Based on the Classics;The Model Bakery Cookbook; Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop; The Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook and The Star Wars Cookbook Series. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.



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