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Chocolate + Balsamic Vinegar = Amazing

Posted Aug 12 2013 12:25pm
Fresh Figs & Mozzarella with Cocoa Balsamic Vinegar

Fresh Figs & Mozzarella with Cocoa Balsamic Vinegar

Culinary combinations are so much fun! Especially when you stumble upon one that you’ve never thought of before but then wonder how in the heck you hadn’t because it’s just such a great idea. Enter infused vinegars courtesy of Boyajian . Fruit-infused vinegars have been around for a while — nothing livens up a salad like balsamic vinegar infused with figs — but I had never seen or thought of cocoa balsamic vinegar. Or coffee balsamic vinegar. Neither had crossed my mind until I tried the cocoa variety from Boyajian (who, as far as I know, are the only folks to have come up with this particular combination) and was instantly enraptured. I adore dark chocolate; I adore balsamic vinegar. What a great idea to put them together! Can’t wait to try their coffee variety, too.

Balsamic vinegar is sweeter than most other varieties of vinegar, which makes it the perfect pair for unsweetened cocoa — the latter provides a deeper, richer backdrop that smacks ever so slightly of chocolate and tones down the sweet fruitiness of balsamic. For a chocoholic like me, that makes this style of vinegar ideal for salads. (Which makes me wonder now how cocoa nibs might be on a salad. Hmmm … perhaps they’re the next crouton?) Another tasty setting for this vinegar with soft, creamy cheeses like fresh mozzarella. Add a soft-but-crunchy fruit like figs, and you’ve got the perfect trifecta. Just goes to show that simplicity is elegant! And elegant is delicious.

Fresh Figs & Mozzarella with Cocoa Balsamic Vinegar

Start with very ripe green figs that are yellowing along the base and the sides but not browning. They should also be soft to the touch, but uniformly so — if your finger feels like it might poke through a spot, that’s an overripe fig. The base of the fig should be a little bit wet, but not drowning in its own juices.

Rinse figs well and cut off the stem, then cut figs into quarters with a sharp paring knife. Rinse the knife and use it to cut a wedge of fresh mozzarella. (These often come as large balls in brine.) I opted for authentic Italian mozzarella made with 100% buffalo milk — it’s extra-creamy — but any fresh mozzarella would be lovely.

Arrange the mozzarella wedge and quartered figs on a plate, then sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and a hint of sea salt. Finish by drizzling with cocoa balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. So luscious and so easy!

Enjoy!

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