Cold Weather Baking: Break Out the Port!

Port is a sweet fortified wine made by adding a little brandy or other spirit to the wine during production. A good bottle of port still tastes like the original grape but is richer, rounder and sweeter. While it's most popular as an after dinner drink or a mellow aperitif, port can actually be wonderful to cook and bake with, too.

For a baking recipe that's more of a special treat than an everyday affair, I like a nice tawny port like Taylor Fladgate for its smooth, mellow sweetness. Tawny ports are fully aged in seasoned oak casks so they have a rich earthiness that many other ports can lack (and in the aging, gain an amber or tawny color). For that reason, they enhance the flavors of many fall fruits, chocolate and nuts. So while lovely to sip after dinner, I've started to incorporate glugs into my favorite cooler-weather baking recipes.

A Few Recipes to Try:
Cherry Ricotta Pie with Cherry Port Sauce - Creative Culinary
Prune and Port Bread - Wives with Knives
Plum and Port Crostata - Martha Stewart
Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Port Glaze - Epicurious
Sweet Chocolate Port Cupcakes - The Food Network

Related: Winter Apertif Recipe: Port and Tonic

(Images:Creative Culinary)