Sometimes one random ingredient can be the catapult to multiple delicious results. That was the case when I received a bottle of Mandarano Balsamic Glaze & Sauce,
I love balsamic vinegar. Having a whole bottle of the glaze on hand? Oh yes....I was in a little bit of heaven. The tangy sweetness beckoned to me on so many levels. From sweet to savory and somewhere in between.
The first thing I did when I got home from work and opened the box was to make a drink. Not just any drink...I mean...a real drink. And yes, I used the Mandarano Balsamic Glaze & Sauce in it.
Think...Arnold Palmer gone wild.
Grab a shaker, filled almost to the top with ice. Fill half way with some good limoncello. Add a teaspoon or two (depending on your preference) of Mandarano Balsamic Glaze & Sauce. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass and top off with some club soda. (If I had had a lemon on hand, I would've garnished my cocktail with a wedge.)
Repeat as necessary.
The balsamic cuts the edge off the sweetness of the limoncello and adds a little something extra while the club soda takes the intensity levels down (as both balsamic and limoncello have very strong flavors). It was interesting to see how they all worked together rather than fighting each other to see who would overpower whom. Mmmm mmmm mmmm. Good stuff!
Next up...since I was in the height of tomato picking and I had mounds of basil... my taste bud senses and cravings where on a caprese level. Of course I used Mandarano Balsamic Glaze & Sauce on a standard caprese salad. That's a no-brainer. But what about a pizza? With some chicken that's been marinating in balsmic? No you're talking!
Instead of a marinara sauce, just drizzle the dough with olive oil. Add lots of mozzarella cheese, some tomato slices, the chicken, throw in some red onions for good measure, sprinkle on some roughly chopped fresh basil and bake. Just before serving, drizzle some of that Mandarano Balsamic Glaze & Sauce over the top and there you go.
Btw....did you know that you can buy fresh pizza dough from Whole Foods? Don't go looking in the refrigerator or freezer section. Go to the "food court" section...right up to the pizza counter and they'll bag up a nice ole wad of dough for you. For a price of course...but hey....if you're there already and you don't have time to make your own when you get home...its way better than anything you can get at the other markets.
And now for the ultimate balsamic glaze application of all.....strawberries. There's just something deliciously...I dunno, complete? that happens when you combine those two. Take it to another level by injecting a bit of scotch whiskey blend....then heap that whole hot mess on top of cheesecake....and......I have no words.
I'll just tell ya what to do....
My cheesecake recipe is always the same as this is "the best cheesecake ever!" All I do is change the topping to whatever fits the mood.
Preheat your oven to 325'. Place a baking dish on the rack below where you plan on baking your cake.
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 - 5 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons sugar
Filling:3 - 8oz packs of cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Sour Cream Topping:16 oz sour cream
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
For the crust:
Combine ingredients. Pat on the bottom of a spring form pan and up the sides a little. Place in the refrigerator while mixing the filling together.
For the filling:
Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into your graham cracker crust. Place in the middle rack in your oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water into a dish (such as a roasting pan) on a rack below your cheesecake. Bake for 1 hour, turning the cake 180' halfway through. If needed, add another cup of hot water to the baking dish. This helps prevent
big cracks by providing a humid atmosphere within your oven.
For the Sour Cream Topping:
Combing the ingredients and pour on top of the cheesecake. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate for several hours or over night.
A few hours before serving, make the ultimate Strawberry Balsamic Glaze as follows:
1 1/2 TB cornstarch
1/2 water plus 3 TB
2 TB scotch whiskey blend
1 TB orange liqueur2 TB sugar
2 cups crushed strawberries
1 TB Mandarano Balsamic Glaze & Sauce
Whole strawberries for garnishing
In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the 3 TB water.
In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring the remaining 1/2 cup water, the scotch whiskey blend, orange liqueur and sugar to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and heat, stirring constantly until everything thickens. If too thick, add a bit of water (1 TB at a time). If too thin, add a bit of cornstarch (1/2 tsp at a time). Stir in the crushed strawberries and balsamic glaze. If you want a stronger balsamic presence, add another TB.
Pour everything into a bowl and set the bowl inside a larger bowl that contains ice water. Stir to cool. Spread over the top of your chilled cheesecake. Chill an additional 2 hours.
Or....just pour the whole thing over the top...and serve as is....one big beautiful hot nirvana-ish mess.
And there you have it. Balsamic Glaze all over the place....from cocktail, to pizza to cheesecake. Hmm...I wonder how it would taste to have the balsamic glaze directly in the cheesecake. Well shoot...after all this...and my daughters dipping into the goods...I have none left to test that out.
I think I need more.
I want to thank Mandarano for sharing their delicious Balsamic Glaze with me. It has been a pleasure to play with and enjoy.