I always look forward to late summer and early fall, when concord grapes make an appearance at farmers markets in New York City. The dark purple grapes, which are deliciously sweet yet tart and filled with crunchy seeds, originated in the town of Concord, Massachusetts. These days, they’re commonly grown around the Great Lakes and in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Every fall, there’s a concord grape pie contest in the small upstate New York town of Naples, where the dessert was made popular by a home baker in the 1950s. Concord grape pies typically have a jelly-like filling and are topped with a lattice crust or decorative cut-outs. My version features whole grapes, a creamy walnut filling, and a bottom layer of cinnamon oat crust. Both the crust and filling can be easily prepared in a food processor.
Concord Grape & Walnut Tart
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup oats
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
1 ¼ cups walnuts
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup concord grapes
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
Prepare the dough: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a pie pan with parchment paper. In the bowl of a small food processor, blend flour, salt, sugar, oats and cinnamon. Add butter (either cold or at room temperature) and process until a smooth dough forms. Press into the bottom of the pie pan, and about 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until barely golden brown. Let cool before adding filling.
Prepare the filling: Wash and measure concord grapes. Set aside. While the crust is baking, combine sugar, walnuts, egg, and vanilla in the food processor. Add butter (either cold or at room temperature) and process until smooth. Pour filling over crust. Arrange grapes in a circular pattern, pressing them gently into the filling (the grapes will sink a bit as the tart bakes, so no need to press too hard.)
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until filling is golden brown. Let cool, and then sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator; the flavors are stronger the next day.