This is adapted from an old recipe in Martha Stewart’s Entertaining, a book that made her famous and launched me on my pre-law catering career back then. That book made me think about food in a different way. I use red grapes to make this recipe as I find that they are generally sweeter and pair better with the Roquefort. I pick the larger grapes in the bunch because they are easier to work with. My version of the recipe uses more Roquefort cheese than is called for in Martha’s recipe as well as a bit of honey that doesn’t make it sweet but adds a bit of complexity to the flavours. The almonds must be toasted. If you don’t want to toast them then move on to another recipe. Toasting the nuts is what gives this appetizer its special flavour. Roquefort grapes can be offered also after dinner as part of a cheese and fruit selection, with dessert wine. Roquefort cheese is a wonderful pairing with sweet wines. The classic pairing is Sauternes. Other pairings include the sweet Banyuls, Muscat, dessert wines and Sherries. For an appetizer serving you can offer champagne.
2 cups almonds
Red seedless grapes as needed
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz Roquefort cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
Whipping cream or crème fraiche as needed
Wash the grapes and dry completely. You can lay them on a cookie sheet and leave uncovered for a while to dry. If the grapes are wet the cheese won’t stick to them.
Place the softened cream cheese, Roquefort cheese and honey in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine the cheeses. Remove into a bowl. If the mixture is too thick add whipping cream or crème fraiche, a tablespoon at a time, to thin it out a bit. The mixture should not be thin though, as it needs to stick to the grapes.
Line a baking sheet with foil. Spread almonds on the sheet and bake in a 400℉ oven a few minutes until almonds are golden and fragrant. To test if they are done, remove an almond and break it. If the center is light golden the almonds are ready. Remove to a bowl and let cool. When cool, place in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop them but don’t process to a powder.
Drop the grapes into the cheese mixture. With wet hands mix to coat the grapes with the cheese.
Roll the cheese coated grapes, a few at a time, in the chopped almond mixture and use two spoons to coat each grape with the almonds on all sides. Remove to a clean tray and repeat with remaining almonds. Refrigerate until firm.
Serve chilled, arranged into a cluster of grapes pattern.