PB & Concordia: My New Holiday Tradition
Holidays are synonymous with traditions. And, although old – sometimes generations-old – traditions are fabulous, all cultures (and families) evolve over time … which is why I’m all for adopting new traditions as they come along.
Like the one I began only last year: PB & Concordia. Specifically, Lisa Dupar’s Crunchy Peanut Butter Bonbons on page 204 of her cookbook, fried chicken and champagne ($38) and Paul Tollner’s Concordia Grape dessert wine ($28) by Tefft Cellars. This combination is like an adult PB & J, only enrobed in chocolate instead of bread. It’s the perfect comfort food sweet-treat for the holidays that offers small bite-sized and sipping-sized portions, so you can be a balanced hedonist without the 5-1o-pound post-holiday gain on the scales (if you can control yourself, that is).
I emailed Lisa this morning to get her permission to publish this recipe, a request to which she replied “Yes mam!” So, here it is – since I only teased all of you hedonists our there with it last year:
Crunchy Peanut Butter Bonbons, by Lisa Dupar, Lisa Dupar Catering and Pomegranate Bistro, from fried chicken & champagne, Page 204:
Years ago, I was given this recipe by a mom-pal at our children’s preschool. Twenty years later, kids are still asking for them. Unlike chocolate truffles, they live in the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy them.
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups crunchy peanut butter, at room temperature (your Hedonista uses organic PB)
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 cups Rice Krispies or other crisp rice cereal
2 pounds high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
In the bowl of a standing kitchen mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar until smooth. Carefully fold in the Rice Krispies so as not to crush them. Roll into small balls, using a small 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop (a scoop is easier and makes consistent bonbons). Freeze the peanut butter balls for at least 3 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over very low heat. Stir to prevent the chocolate from getting too hot as it melts; it should not feel hot to the touch. As soon as the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat. Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer. Dip 5 bonbons at a time into the melted chocolate; use a fork to remove the bonbons so the chocolate can drip back into the bowl. Transfer the dipped bonbons to the prepared baking sheet, and refreeze to let the chocolate set up. Dip the bonbons in chocolate once more for a second coat. Refreeze the bonbons, and store in the freezer in tightly sealed containers until ready to serve; they do not need to be thawed first. The bonbons will last 6 months in the freezer.
Makes 48 to 68 bonbons, depending on the scoop size.
High-quality couverture, or covering chocolate, for truffle making is available in many grocery stores. Look for a semisweet or bittersweet bar that has 65 to 70 percent chocolate. Most quality chocolate makers are proud to show off their stats right on the wrapper. Also, if you look closely, some high-end grocers sell pastry-chef-quality “working chocolate” pistoles, chips made of covering chocolate.
Then, this afternoon, I got the story of Tefft Cellars’ Concordia dessert wine from Paul Tollner, co-owner of Tefft Cellars (which has been around for over two decades) of the Rattlesnake Hills AVA. Their fab Concordia Grape Port – created about a decade ago – all started when Chuck Alexander of Alexander Vineyards visited his friend and neighbor Joel Tefft of Tefft Cellars with a bin of Concord grapes. Chuck’s neighborly payment terms were simple: one case of whatever wine ended up being produced from his grapes. And within this arrangement another tradition was born.
In early 2009, business partners Paul Tollner and Rhonda Taylor purchased Tefft Cellars after seriously considering several Columbia Valley wineries. Fresh with the success of their last entrepreneurial endeavor – a national background screening firm – Paul and Rhonda sought to take their proven effective business partnership in a more enophilic direction. Paul says that Rhonda is “a foodie graced with an amazing palate” while Paul himself traces his wine roots back to his pre-teen status as an altar boy (for which the Concordia rang several particular bells) as well as his (dangerously tempting) close proximity to the Napa Valley region during his studies at UC Davis.
Since 2009, Paul and Rhonda have been busy with the creation of their tasting room in Woodinville, the improvement in the quality and branding of their winery (which I can personally attest to; in the last couple of years I have noticed an improvement in their wines), and the expansion of their base of devoted fans/customers.
Tefft’s Concordia is a dessert wine that tastes like a Welch’s Grape Jelly adult beverage, in a very good way. Made with Concord grapes from the Yakima Valley, this wine is barrel-aged for 10 months before being offered to the general public. It’s 18% alcohol, with a residual sugar level of 6%. I have consumed a couple of 2009 vintages, and intend to consume more – especially with Lisa’s peanut butter balls in-hand.
A trip to Tefft Cellars – be it to the wine-bar-styled tasting room in Woodinville (open daily 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) or to the larger property in Outlook, Washington – typically results in an open bottle of Concordia, which is best served with PB and chocolate, like (once again) Lisa’s crunchy PB bonbons (see recipe above). (And if Paul is there, some sort of chocolate-and-peanut-butter confection stash will likely be found to accompany a Concordia dessert wine tasting).
Regardless of my new tradition recommendation, with or without PB & Concordia, may the hedonistically happy holiday season continue for you all, dear hedonists.