On the first night of their visit, my mom opened the carton of thick, syrupy Vin Cuit and followed a Swiss recipe provided by Viviane's sister, Nadine, to construct a traditional dessert that yielded a rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth pie with lingering tastes of fruit and raisins. Curious about this dark, molasses-like ingredient, we went online and found that the name is misleading, as Vin Cuit contains no wine. According to Wikipedia, this concentrated fruit syrup common in the Swiss Alps, made from pear, apple, or sometimes grape juice, is used in place of sugar in several desserts. Manufactured in large cauldrons and slowly heated for 12 – 36 hours, the juice cooks down to a viscous concentrate, resembling the consistency of molasses and exudes a strong, intense fruity smell.
Further curiosity led me to attempt to replicate Vin Cuit, SLO-style. The process was indeed slow and I warn you that this recipe is not for the impatient-minded cook—I spent several hours in the kitchen this weekend, hovering over my Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grape juice concoction as it toiled and bubbled down to its desired syrupy-like consistency. The next time I have the inclination to simmer juice into Vin Cuit, I'll prepare a quadruple batch to keep on hand, as it will keep for at least a few weeks in the refrigerator.
SLO Vin Cuit Pie
3 cups wine grape juice
(I went SLOCAL: Mill Road by Monahan Family Farm, Paso Robles Winegrape Juice, Cabernet/Syrah)
1 cup verjus (see past article)
Dash or two of cinnamon
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ready-made pie crust dough
In a medium saucepan, bring grape juice and verjus to a boil. Reduce to a light simmer and stir frequently to prevent scorching, for 3 – 4 hours, until mixture reduces to a thick syrup (you will be left with about 1 cup). Add cinnamon, stir and remove from heat and cool. Pour into glass jar and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until the consistency thickens. After cooling, whisk 4 tablespoons of SLO Vin Cuit with sweetened condensed milk and whipping cream until thoroughly incorporated. Set in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
Although the traditional Swiss Vin Cuit is thick enough to cut with a knife, mine produced a consistency thicker than syrup but not quite as heavy as molasses; delicious nonetheless.
When you're ready to make the pie, heat oven to 400˚F. Shape pie-crust in pie pan, cover with a single layer of dried beans (to prevent crust from puffing up so that you end up with a flat, smooth surface for this delectably creamy filling) and bake in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove crust from oven and discard beans. Pour SLO Vin Cuit pie mixture in crust and bake for an additional 8 - 10 minutes (until center is set). Cool, slice and serve at room temperature along with fresh grapes and your favorite glass of Port. Voila!
Matthew in Switzerland, wandering the lush orchards and vineyards.
Swiss-terraced vineyards near Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).
All Text and Photos Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.