Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dark Chocolate & Pecan Fudge with Elderberry Balsamic

Fudge is an ideal treat for the holiday season, and we are happy to say we have found a recipe which is ideal for home baking.  The inclusion of balsamic vinegar may sound odd at first, but the fruit becomes a back note to the dark chocolate.

We used our Elderberry White Balsamic for this recipe, but truth be told some of our ‘dark’ balsamic work just as well – some might even say better.  We liked the Elderberry here as it is more subtle, using our Raspberry, Blackberry or Dark Sweet Cherry would bring the fruit flavors more to the forefront.  So give it a try and let us know your result. 

This is an easy recipe which gives an outstanding result – rich, thick and not overly creamy.  The pecans give the texture needed, but other nuts, like walnuts, would also work.

  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 ¼  pound dark chocolate (five 4-ounce bars; we used 60% cacao)
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • ½  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 can or bottle (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup Pastamoré Elderberry White Balsamic Vinegar
Toast the pecan pieces in a dry skillet or toaster oven over very low heat.  Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Fill a medium sauce pan with an inch or two of water and bring to a slow boil.  Chop the bars of chocolate into small consistent bits – this helps the chocolate to melt evenly.  Place the chocolate bits in the top of a double boiler or in a medium stainless bowl that can be later placed on the pan of boiling water.

Sprinkle the salt and baking powder on the chocolate bits, and stir to distribute evenly.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and Elderberry Balsamic and stir thoroughly.

Reduce heat of boiling water so it is just simmering.  Place double boiler or bowl on top of pan.  Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate just until it’s almost fully melted, about 3-4 minutes.  Watch this very closely.  If the chocolate stays on the heat too long, it could separate, get greasy or grainy.

Remove the bowl from the heat before all of it is melted and continue to stir until chocolate is fully melted and smooth, about another 2 minutes.  Stir in toasted pecan pieces.

Transfer fudge to prepared baking dish spreading to the edges to make an even layer.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Use a sharp knife along edges and cut into squares.  Store the fudge in a cool place wrapped tightly in plastic or in a zipper-lock bag.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Grilled Chicken with Chipotle Rub & Dark Chocolate Glaze

We have talked before about how much fun we are having using our new Dark Chocolate Balsamic in savory recipes.  Here is one more that follows the Mexican mole route – a fabulous combo of chocolate and chilies.  This recipe is quite easy, and we have left it free-form – you can do your own proportioning!

Rub your favorite cut of chicken or split Cornish game hen with chipotle chili powder.  Use to your taste, the more you put on the spicier you will make the chicken.  Sprinkle with garlic salt.

Grill on medium low heat and cook until the chicken is about 80% done.  Remove from direct heat and place on indirect heat or the upper rack.  Baste generously with Pastamoré Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar.  Turn after a couple of minutes and baste again.  Do this a couple of times on each side until chicken is done.  Baste one last time on plate before serving.

Remember, balsamic vinegar can burn if the heat is too hot – so be sure and keep on eye on your dinner!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dark Chocolate Balsamic Burgers

This is an adaptation from a fabulous idea Chef Jon had for using our new Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar in a savory recipe.  We have simply shortened it up, and took out some of the cool secondary elements he had in the full recipe.  If you want to see the full recipe, please click here.  The idea is to use the dark chocolate flavor as in a Mexican ‘mole’ – chilies, chocolate and beef are an amazing combo.

When we saw this recipe here in Nan’s test kitchen, we knew before we even tasted that it was a winner.  And then we made it, and we were more than impressed.  Chef Jon called it hilariously good; we will go so far as to say it is one of the best things we have tasted using our products.  A ten year old on our tasting panel devoured two burgers in about 4 minutes.  The chili ‘heat’ level is not overwhelming – we would rate this as slightly less than medium heat.  The ten year old agrees.

One last note, the Manchego cheese is an inspired choice in this recipe.  If you haven’t tried it, it is a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese.  It has a distinctive tangy but buttery taste. If you cannot find it, consider using a gruyere or pecorino cheese.

Yup, I did burn the bun a bit...

  • 1 pound ground beef (we used 80/20)
  • 1 tablespoon Pastamoré Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces aged Manchego cheese (regular Manchego also acceptable)
  • 4 sweet hamburger buns (King’s Hawaiian are an awesome choice)
Combine the ground beef, salt, chipotle chile powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and the Pastamore Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar in a large mixing bowl.  Mix until evenly combined.  Form the meat into four even sized patties, and place on a plate to the side.

Prepare grill to medium high.  Slice Manchego cheese to divide on four burgers.

Turn on the grill to medium-high heat.   Place burgers on grill.  Turn burgers three times, about a minute to two on each side for medium rare.  Adjust for doneness you prefer.  On the last flip, add the cheese.  Two minutes should be enough for the cheese to melt sufficiently.  At this time, toast the buns on the grill.  Because they are sweet buns, they can burn faster – be advised.

Garnish away.  For our burgers, we garnished with a slice of tomato and some baby spinach leaves.  You can roll like Chef Jon with sweet potato and grilled red bell pepper.  The one thing we noted, as did Chef Jon – we did not need a sauce or ketchup.  And these were the juiciest burgers we have had in a long time.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grilled Sweet Potatoes ala Nan

Having had success in the past by reducing carbs, I am always looking for ways to eliminate potatoes in my everyday diet.  Sure, I am not going to pass up Gorgonzola mashed potatoes if offered, but I would like to keep French fries as far away as possible.  Sweet potatoes are an ideal replacement for potato fries; they have so many health benefits – from being high in vitamin B6, C & D, as well as containing significant amounts of iron, magnesium and beta carotene.  Try these with your kids and see what you think.

Grilled Cheddar Sausage Dog is optional!

Parcook the potatoes; place in a pot of water and boil until fork-tender – about  10 to 15 minutes; let cool. Slice each potato lengthwise into eighths and place in large bowl.  Add Jalapeno Oil and toss carefully to cover.  Season with salt & pepper.

Preheat a grill to medium or place a cast-iron grill pan over medium heat. 

Grill until golden brown on all (three) sides (including the skin) and just cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Don’t worry if the skin burns, it will taste great.  Transfer to a platter; immediately season with additional salt if desired.  Arrange three wedges on the plate, drizzle with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar and serve.

Serves 4 as a side.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dark Chocolate Balsamic Spritzer

For those of you familiar with Dr. Oz (popular TV advice doctor on 'Oprah'), he recommends all adults consume up to two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with meals whenever possible. He claims the acetic acid found in balsamic vinegar helps activate genes that burn fat and increases satiety, so you feel fuller.

With that in mind, we had a fabulous suggestion from a fan in Napa. She suggested we mix our Raspberry Balsamic in a glass with sparkling water. A perfect way to add balsamic to our diet! We tried it, loved it, and posted that recipe here. So what about using one of our new products instead? Here is the result:

In a tall cocktail glass, fill half way with ice.  Add the dark chocolate balsamic, and fill with sparkling water/club soda.  Add mint and/or alcohol (light rum or gin) if desired.

It may sound unusual, but give it a try. We think you will be most impressed!  If you want to learn more about Dr. Oz's balsamic health benefits, click here

                                     Paws off this post, Pastamoré!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Arugula Salad with Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette

Our food photographer is forever on vacation...

When we first introduced our Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar, we wondered if we could reasonably expect to convince our fans that this is more than a ‘dessert’ ingredient.  Well, we doubt no longer!  After a few days of experimenting with this alluring condiment in Nan’s test kitchen, we are convinced that this can be a versatile and exciting part of sweet AND savory dishes.

This pairing with arugula is inspired.  The strong peppery taste of the greens are countered beautifully by the rich savory chocolate.  If you are unfamiliar with arugula and its spicier than spinach taste, you may want to.  Of all vegetables, arugula (also known as ‘rocket’) is highest in bone building calcium, magnesium and manganese.  And if the health benefits do not sway you, perhaps this will; arugula has been considered an aphrodisiac in Italy since Roman times.  So technically we should tell you this is two aphrodisiacs on one plate… prepare at your own risk!

·         2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
·         2 tablespoons Pastamoré Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
·         2 teaspoons juice from the mandarin oranges (see below)
·         4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
·         ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
·         salt to taste

·         6 ounces baby arugula leaves; cleaned
·         3 ounces slivered almonds; toasted with a touch of salt
·         4 ounces goat cheese; crumbled
·         1 - 11 ounce can mandarin oranges; drained reserving some juice.

Place shallots in a small mixing bowl.  Add Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar and the juice reserved from the oranges.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking until the vinaigrette has emulsified.  Add black pepper and salt to taste.  You will need a fair amount of salt to bring out the chocolate flavor.  Set aside and allow flavors to meld, at least an hour.

In a large bowl, combine arugula with vinaigrette, toss to cover.  Add the almonds, goat cheese and oranges, fold carefully into the salad.  Alternatively, plate before adding oranges; then arrange oranges in a circular pattern on salad.  Serve immediately. 
Serves 4.

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