The original Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale is made from cooked white Trebbiano grape juice and is not a vinegar in the usual sense. It has been made in Modena and Reggio Emilia since the Middle Ages (as early as 1046). Balsamic vinegar is highly praised and most often used by chefs and food lovers.
I commonly use Balsamic vinegar for salad dressing and meat marinades together with a little olive oil. For Valentine’s Day, Chef Jonathan and I came up with a wonderful dressing using two ancient ingredients—Balsamic vinegar and Choclatique chocolate. We found the two flavors to be complimentary resulting in one of the most delicious dressings we’ve ever tasted for a Caprese Salad. You can put the whole thing together in less than 30 minutes and the results will be winning you praise for many Valentine’s Days to come.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooling Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 – 1 oz. servings
For the Balsamic Reduction:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
For the Chocolate Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Choclatique Ebony Dark Chocolate Pastilles
1/3 cup balsamic reduction
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (about 5 turns on a grinder)
1 tablespoon extra fine granulated sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar reduction
For the Caprese Salad:
6 slices large beefsteak tomato
6 slices fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons chocolate vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
10 leaves fresh basil
For the Balsamic Reduction:
- Place the vinegar in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by about two-thirds.
- Set aside and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, the reduction should be a light syrup consistency.
For the Vinaigrette:
- Place the olive oil in a glass bowl and heat in a microwave for 45-60 seconds.
- Add the chocolate to the olive oil and whisk together until they form a smooth emulsion. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, sugar and balsamic vinegar reduction. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
- While whisking, slowly drizzle the cooled oil mixture into the vinegar reduction.
- Hold at room temperature and set aside.
Assembling the Salad:
- Starting with tomato, alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella on a dinner plate. Three slices of each for each serving.
- Season with the salt and pepper.
- Drizzle one tablespoon of the vinaigrette over and around the tomatoes and mozzarella.
ChefSecret: An easy way to see if your vinegar has reduced enough is to dip the back of a metal spoon into the vinegar and let it cool for a minute. Then run your finger along the back of the spoon to check its consistency. If the swipe mark holds without running at all, then your vinegar is ready. The French say that your sauce has reached the nappé stage.