This summer berry dessert literally translates as “red grits” or “red porridge,” but Germans know it as a red fruit jelly that doesn’t actually have any grains in it; it’s really thickened with cornstarch. Rote Grütze is available commercially in Germany just like cranberries are around Thanksgiving in the United States; you can buy a Rote Grütze mix or packet and prepare it quickly and easily in Germany. Of course, here in America you have to make it from scratch.
For the jelly:
- 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen raspberries, thawed
- 1 (16-ounce) package frozen strawberries, thawed and pureed
- 1 pound dark sweet red cherries, stemmed, pitted, and quartered; or 1 (1 pound) can dark, sweet pitted cherries, drained and the juice reserved
- 1 quart red grape or cranberry juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar*
Combine the drained raspberry juice, the pureed strawberries, and, if using canned cherries, the cherry juice in a 1-quart measure. Add enough grape juice to total 1 quart, then pour this mixture into a large saucepan (not aluminum) and add 2 additional cups of grape juice. Stir in the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and bring to a boil, uncovered, over moderate heat, stirring often.
Combine the cornstarch with the wine to make a thin smooth paste. As soon as the saucepan mixture boils, pour in the cornstarch paste, whisking vigorously. Immediately reduce the heat to low and cook and stir for 3 minutes, just until the mixture bubbles up again, thickens, clears, and no raw starch flavor remains. Stir in the reserved raspberries and the cherries and heat and stir for about 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, then transfer to a large bowl, cover, and chill for 24 hours.
Shortly before serving, beat the cream with the vanilla sugar until slightly thickened but still thin enough to pour (NOT to stiff peaks!). Spoon the Rote Grütze into stemmed goblets, top each portion with a generous ladling of the cream, and serve.
*You can make your own vanilla sugar by mixing 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract with 1 cup of granulated sugar. Store the excess in an airtight container and use it in other recipes or in drinks.