Peeling the grapes for this luxurious dessert at Apicius lets the fruit absorb the flavors of honey and rosemary. The restaurant removes only the largest seeds, but we suggest removing them all.
Yield: serves 4
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
24 whole almonds
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
2 cups muscat grapes
1⁄4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. cognac
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1⁄2 pint vanilla ice cream
Put sugar and 1 tsp. water in a small heavy skillet over medium heat and cook until sugar is melted and golden, 5-7 minutes. Whisk in 1⁄2 tbsp. of the butter, then add almonds and 2 tsp. water. Cook, stirring, until almonds are toasted and well coated with caramelized sugar, 2-3 minutes. Using two forks, lift almonds from sugar, one at a time, and place on a rack to cool completely.
Mince half the rosemary and set aside. Peel grapes with a sharp knife. Using a sewing needle, carefully remove and discard seeds from each grape while keeping flesh intact. Cover grapes with plastic wrap and set aside.
Melt remaining 1 1⁄2 tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add honey and bring to a boil. Add grapes and shake skillet to coat them evenly. Add cognac and carefully ignite with a kitchen match, keeping a lid nearby to extinguish the flames if necessary. Once the flames die out, add lemon juice and reserved minced rosemary. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce thickens slightly and grapes are heated through, about 2 minutes.
To serve, divide grapes and sauce between four dessert bowls. Arrange 6 almonds in each of the bowls, then sprinkle remaining rosemary over grapes and almonds in each bowl. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center of each bowl and garnish each with a short rosemary branch, stripped of its leaves, if you like