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Monday, May 2, 2011

White chocolate and basil cream with balsamic strawberries (Italian)

This is my favorite dessert so far. I can't imagine it being over-thrown by anything too soon. The glasses are filled with a delicious fluid white chocolate cream infused with fresh basil, and the topping of strawberries is imbibed with a balsamic red wine vinegar syrup. The combination of strawberries and cream is classical, but basil and red vinegar?!? Well, you won't be sorry if you try it. Fear not, the flavors are not too powerful and they complement the strawberries and white chocolate cream perfectly. 
But, if you want it to work, respect the instructions and measurements carefully. And don't even think about replacing the white chocolate with regular brown chocolate, the basil flavor will fade out and the whole thing will not taste of anything else than just chocolate. Which is pretty good, don't get me wrong, but it's not what you're aiming for with this.
Adapted from here (English) and here (Romanian)

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 300 g white chocolate
  • a bunch of fresh basil
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine balsamic vinegar
  • 285 ml sweet cream (30% fat - single cream)
  • 300 g strawberries

First, finely grate the chocolate. It doesn't need to be extra fine, so if you don't have a food processor / kitchen robot you can also jut cut it into little chunks:

Wash the basil.

Reserve a few (four) leaves for decorating, then tear the rest with your hands (stems included). It's better to not use a knife as it oxidizes the greens and may alter the flavor.

Put the cream in a pot an bring to boil. The second the boiling begins remove pot from heat and add the torn basil to it:

Cover and let the cream be infused with basil for 5 minutes. Afterwards, pour mixture over a sieve to retain the basil:

Discard the basil and keep only the infused cream. Put it over heat and bring to a boil again. Also take it away from heat when it's about to boil and pour the grated chocolate in. Mix well to melt the chocolate and incorporate it:

Pour into 4 glasses (of 200 ml each), filling them 2/3.

Put them in the freezer for at least one hour (we kept them for 4 and would recommend over night). Wash the strawberries:
Discard the leaves and cut each in half (if the strawberries are small) or in three if they're bigger. Reserve 4 pieces for decorating.

Bring the vinegar, sugar and two tablespoons of water (30 ml) to boil in a small pot (saucepan).

Stir for 2-3 minutes (it will look very foamy and bubbly). Remove from heat:

Put the strawberry slices in the balsamic syrup and mix gently to coat them all. Leave at room temperature until you take the white chocolate cream out of the fridge and you're ready to assemble the final dessert cup.

When you're ready, just take the creams out of the fridge and pour 1/4 of the strawberry-balsamic mixture over each of them. Then, decorate with a strawberry piece (on the glass edge) and a basil leaf and it's done. Dig in! :)

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