Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Italian Ice Cream Sundaes

Another graduate student and I often do dinner and a movie. The food is always Italian and the movie is always old. Tonight, I was in charge of dessert, and I wanted to do something that was easy, light, different, and delicious. I have been intrigued at the thought of incorporating a Balsamic syrup into a dessert for some time now, so I thought I would give it a try.

Before I made my reduction, I did quite a bit of research on Balsamic vinegar. What we buy in the grocery store is not 'real' Balsamic vinegar. 'Real' Balsamic vinegar is marked 'traditional' and costs upwards of $60. In lieu of spending a pretty penny on the 'real' thing, you can reduce grocery store Balsamic to create something a bit closer to the liqueur-like consistency and complexity of 'real' Balsamic. While there is no real substitute, I could not be more pleased with my reduction. It took no time at all and my syrup was outstanding: the flavor was rich and complex (my friend said it was "almost like chocolate"), and the texture was like velvet. What better topping for an ice cream Sundae?

Italian Ice Cream Sundaes
Serves 2

1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
6-8 strawberries
1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
Vanilla Ice Cream
Chopped roasted, salted almonds

In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, simmer Balsamic vinegar for 9-10 minutes, until the consistency is thick like maple syrup and coats the spoon. The vinegar should reduce to less than 1/4 cup. Let cool.

An hour or two before serving, sprinkle strawberries with sugar, to draw out their juices.

To assemble, scoop ice cream, sprinkle with strawberries and almonds. Drizzle with balsamic syrup.

The Balsamic syrup combined with the sweetness of the strawberries, the saltiness of the almonds, and the creaminess of the ice cream made for a perfect Italian ice cream Sundae.

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