Sassy “Shortcakes” With Balsamic Drizzle

I first thought of making a balsamic drizzle when I posted a shortcakes recipe in May.

This recipe is inspired by and loosely adapted from: Patriotic Mini-Cakes, see the Resources page for more information.

At the time, I envisioned a variation of a strawberry shortcake using ma mère‘s yellow cake, strawberries macerated in sugar and cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil or mint to create a fun, tangy twist on the traditional shortcake dessert.

Sassy “Shortcakes” With Balsamic Drizzle
Drizzle and fruit quantities are enough to top four, flat, shaped cakes, or two layered cakes (see photo). Obviously, there will be additional cake. Just make more strawberries and balsamic drizzle for additional portions.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. of fresh strawberries, halved
1 teaspoon sugar
sprinkling of ground cinnamon

Sheet cake of your choice – baked at home or store-bought

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons dark, corn syrup (due to family tradition, mon mari now calls it “motor oil”)
fresh mint or basil, to garnish

Equipment:

Cookie cutters in desired shapes

Directions:

My first step was to combine the fruit, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, stirring well to coat the fruit.  I let the fruit sit, uncovered on the counter-top while making the cake and baking it, and making the balsamic drizzle.  It was about an hour.

Once you combine the sugar, cinnamon, and strawberries, let them macerate for about an hour until the sugars have permeated the fruit and made a sweet fruit topping.

My variation calls for a thin, yellow sheet cake, but you could make any type of cake you like, or pudding, or even use a bowl of ice cream and top it with fruit and balsamic drizzle.  Whenever I make yellow cake, I add poppy seeds to it.  Ma mère always does it, and it tastes good, so I don’t question it.

Adding in the poppy seeds. This reminds me of a Seinfeld episode about lemon poppy seed muffins!

Mmmm. Cake. This is one of the only cakes I really love.

I actually divided the cake when it came to baking it.  I made a thin sheet cake in a small cake pan and some cupcakes to use later, and baked the cake accordingly.

Once the cake cooled, I cut it into sunburst shapes with cookie cutters.  I carefully moved the cookie cutter around in the cake to make the shape.  Be cautious not to tear the cakes up as you cut them out.

To make the balsamic drizzle, heat the vinegar with the sugar and dark corn syrup in a saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the dark corn syrup has mixed with the balsamic vinegar and sugar.

The vinegar, brown sugar, and dark corn syrup bubbling away!

Bring the vinegar mixture to a bubble and allow it to simmer and thicken to a dark, syrupy, drizzle – it takes about 15 minutes.  The end result will look like a slightly thicker, deeper-colored chocolate ganache and should coat the back of a spoon.

I wish I had a better photo of how thick and delicious the drizzle gets.

To serve, top the cakes with fruit.  Garnish with balsamic drizzle and fresh mint or basil.

Flavorful Variations:  Raspberries, kiwis, pineapples, and bananas would be tasty choices for this dessert.  Instead of garnishing the desserts with herbs, you could use homemade whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon, or even chocolate shavings.

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