Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Balsamic Toffee Strawberries

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most satisfying.

This is definitely one of them. I've always been a lover of toffee. I would always beg my Mum to buy me a toffee apple from Woolworths even though I would always end up eating just the toffee layer, leaving the old, bruised apple behind. Toffee poured into cupcake papers and topped off with hundreds and thousands (sprinkles for you non-Australians) were the best thing at school bake sales. They left me happy, sticky and sugar high.
So I came across this very simple idea for toffee strawberries on the Taste website. I loved it, and decided to play with it a little. At first I thought of hollowing out the centre of the strawberries and filling it with dulce de leche before covering it with a thin layer of toffee. Sounds pretty awesome right? Not so easy to execute unfortunately. After a couple of attempts which ended up with some very structurally unsound strawberries, I decided to keep it simple.
The toffee covering these super sweet strawberries is flavoured with balsamic vinegar. Balsamic and strawberry is one of those amazing combinations that you might not understand until you try it for the first time. It works perfectly in a toffee as well. While a toffee apple these days might make my throat ache with its over-the-top sweetness, the dark tangy flavour of the balsamic is the perfect addition to the super thin layer of toffee that shatters as you bite through it.
Strawberries are not my favourite fruit, but they seem to be my favourite fruit to bake with. As I was compiling my recipe index not too long ago, I realised just how many recipes I have with strawberry. They are super cheap in Sydney at the moment, and taste so good on their own that it's a shame to do too much to them. This recipe is perfect as it retains all the fresh strawberry goodness inside with just a little bit of fun on the outside.
While I love the look of the plain balsamic toffee strawberries, I couldn't resist trying to dip a few of them in chocolate chips. While they might not be the most elegant looking, they were really delicious with that little bit of chocolate. If you were making these for kids, you could probably skip the balsamic and keep the rainbow chocolate chips. But for me the balsamic flavoured toffee is a revelation.
Balsamic Toffee Strawberries
(inspired by this recipe)
1 punnet fresh strawberries, washed and patted dry
70ml (approx 1/3 cup) water
125g sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Optional: chocolate sprinkles

Insert cocktail/lollipop sticks or skewers through the tops of strawberries. Line a tray with baking paper. Place sugar, water and balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan (with a sugar thermometer if you have one) and place on low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat so that the mixture comes a boil. Allow to boil for 5-10 mins without stirring, until the mixture reaches hard-crack stage (300 degrees F). I removed the saucepan from the heat at about 295 degrees F. If you do not have a sugar thermometer, you can tell when it reaches hard crack stage by dropping some of the mixture into a glass of cold water. If the drops harden immediately it is ready. It's hard to tell when it starts to darken in colour because of the added balsamic.
Working quickly, dip the strawberries in the toffee, holding them by the sticks. Let the excess toffee drip off and then leave the strawberries to harden on baking paper. If you wish, you can dip the bottom of the toffee covered strawberries in chocolate sprinkles before the toffee hardens. If the toffee in the saucepan starts to harden before you are finished, return it to the heat until it becomes liquid again, but take care not to burn it. Serve within an hour or so after covering the strawberries as the moisture in the fruit will make the toffee melt over time.
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  1. That's totally awesome Steph! You can't beat the combo of strawberries and balsamic together. Good work!

  2. YUM!!
    such a good idea.
    Are you coming to the bloggers Sydney Spring picnic Steph? I'm excited to meet some other local bloggers!

  3. I've never thought of this combination before but I can imagine it would be yummy. Those glistening strawberries look sensational!

  4. This reminds me of when I was in Beijing it was the middle of winter and they had skewers of fruit (kiwi, strawberry etc) dipped in toffee too!! One of the best things I've ever tasted!!!

  5. Balsamic toffee strawberries? There are like toffee apples, only better! Love this idea. Fruit on a stick is always a winner

  6. I made my first lot of toffee apples just a couple of weeks ago and used Royal Gala apples - they were delicious as I had just the thinnest covering of toffee.
    I've got strawberries in the fridge waiting to be toffee dipped but I hadn't thought of using Balsamic in it - great!
    And my DH wants me to try bananas - think I might have to dip them in lemon first.

  7. Strawberries and balsamic together are one of those truly magical combinations that just work... with toffee - now, that is inspired! I can imagine this one being more popular than chocolate dipped strawberries...

  8. This is a fabulous idea! I made some strawberry and balsamic dessert pizzas with a friend the other night and reignited my love of sticking them together. I love these!

    The apples in toffee apples were always so floury and bruised and awful, I never felt too bad leaving them behind after eating all the toffee!

  9. I've never thought to coat strawberries in toffee, but these look divine!!

  10. Balsamic Strawberries are awesome but never really though to coat strawberries in toffee, looks so good!

  11. I love toffee apple but often I can't finish the whole apple. These toffee strawberry is just the right size for me.

  12. I way more sophisticated version of the toffee apple! Great work again!!

  13. That is awesome! Creative and delicious.

  14. This reminds me of those lovely, glassy, sugar-coated fried bananas I used to love as a kid at Chinese restaurants. The best part was the sticky, hard sugar exterior. Thanks for the memories and for the wonderful riff on a favorite.

  15. What an awesome idea! I would totally make these for Hallowe'en treats if strawberries were in season up here in I will have to wait until next year, but these just look so good! great shots by the way too!

  16. The best combo for strawberries is toffe and balsamic. What a clever i dea. I love it....

  17. The crunch from the toffee would be so good. I don't think I've had toffee with strawberries - and with the balsamic they would be awesome.

  18. I love strawberry, and Balsamic vinegar combo. I love the bowl dish you are serving in, it is beautiful. I like the sprinkles on it, so colorful.

  19. Beautiful photographs and brilliant recipe. Well done.

  20. i love your photos! and great job with the berries too!

  21. stumbled upon this via tastespotting... oh wow. yummy. thanks for showing me how to make a really great looking strawberry treat :)

  22. Wow! These look amaaazing... and your photos are always so pretty! I really feel like taking the next bite out of that glazed strawberry

  23. Beautiful! This remind me of the skewers of caramel covered cherry tomatoes at Asian Night Markets. Fun!

  24. Phuoc'n Delicious - Thanks Phuoc! I agree, I love the combo!

    Sophie - Thanks so much! I will most definitely be there, looking forward to meeting you!

    leaf (the indolent cook) - It's a great combination! Heehee aren't they so shiny and pretty?

    the dainty baker - Ooh that sounds awesome! I bet kiwi would have been awesome dipped in toffee

    Helen (Grab Your Fork) - Exactly!! Anything on a stick is a winner in my books :D

    Rustic Tarts - Your toffee apples sound lovely! Trust me, toffee bananas are amazing, one of my favourite treats at peking restaurants

    Trissa - I agree! I actually prefer these to chocolate dipped strawberries ;)

    Conor @ Hold the Beef - Oooh those dessert pizzas sound amazing!! I agree, the apples in toffee apples were so gross, I never ate them!

    Jennifurla - Thanks!

    delicieux - Trust me, it's works!

    Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! - Thank you! They were very tasty :)

    Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - I don't think I've ever finished the whole apple in a toffee apple before!

    Brenda - Thanks so much! <3

    Madam Wu - :D Thank you!

    Carolyn Jung - Ooh yes, I loved those too! They would always bring to molten toffee to the table and dip the banana in it before plunging it into ice water. Love it!

    Adriana - thanks!

    Elizabeth - Aww I'm sure other fruits would work just as well! thank you!

    Joudie's Mood Food - Thanks so much!

    Anita - It did have that perfect glassy crunch :) The balsamic was really good with it!

    Pam @ Cooking World - Thanks so much, it's my favourite bowl from Urban Outfitters :)

    Juno - Aww thank you!!

    thang @ noodlies - Cheers! :)

    hannah {thepastrykook} - Aww shucks! Thanks so much :)

    cutekittypunk - hehe thanks for stopping by!! xx

    Honey @ honeyandsoy - :) Thank you, you're too kind! Mm trust me I gobbled that strawberry up as soon as I was done!

    Tami - Ooh caramel covered cherry tomatoes sound really interesting!

    ZarpandiT - Thank yoU!

  25. Looks fantastic! There is this hotel in Adelaide that has an awesome dish on the dessert menu. You get three scoops of different flavoured sorbet & they serve it with balsamic strawberries and toffee pieces crumbled over the top. I wasn't sure how it would work the first time I tried it - but it was one of the most amazing things I have ever tasted! So it's a great idea that you've come up with to do the balsamic & toffee all together! Can't wait to try it!

  26. Anonymous - Ooh that dessert sounds lovely! Balsamic and toffee are a surprisingly great combo :)

  27. these berries have an inner light!!! they glow :)

  28. Amelia - Heehee they were very glossy!

  29. oh my goodness gracias what an awesome idea!! i'm so sad my family just ate all of our strawberries up last night :( oh well...i have the whole rest of the summer to make these babies!!


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