On a recent trip to Italy we stayed in the small town of Modena, the home of balsamic vinegar. We took a food tour to Acetaia Villa San Donnino where they make the most wonderful balsamic vinegar. During the tour they took us to the attic where they make the balsamic vinegar.
After showing us how they make the balsamic vinegar, we had the pleasure tasting their vinegar. We started with the 12-year-old vinegar, then tasted a 25-year-old vinegar, a white balsamic vinegar, and then a 50-year-old vinegar. Wow, the 50-year-old vinegar was so sweet.
After our trip, I was inspired to create my Strawberry-Basil Scones with a Balsamic Reduction Icing. I entered these scones into the Washington State Fair Fisher Scone Competition where they came in 2nd place.
Because D.O.P. balsamic vinegar is not readily available, I have included a recipe for a balsamic reduction, which is wonderfully sweet.
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups sliced strawberries
8 tablespoons butter
2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup basil, chiffonade
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
In a small saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar, red wine, granulated sugar, and pinch of salt. Simmer of high heat until syrupy, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and add lemon juice and vanilla extract. Let cool. Combine sliced strawberries and 1 Tablespoon balsamic reduction, let sit for 5 minutes. (refrigerate remaining balsamic reduction for other uses) Drain strawberries, reserving juices. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Grate butter and put in freezer. Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Mix in frozen butter until all the butter is covered with the flour mixture. Add buttermilk and mix until just together (do not overmix, the dough is very loose). Place dough on a heavy floured board and pat into a square. Roll out into a 12″ square. Fold into thirds, and then fold into thirds the other direction (you should have a square again). Put on a floured plate and put into the freezer uncovered for 5 minutes.
Roll dough into 12″ square. Sprinkle chiffonade basil and strawberries evenly on dough; pat down gently. Roll dough like a cinnamon roll, into a tight log. Flatten log to 4″ wide x 12″ long. Cut flat log into 6 equal pieces, then cut each piece diagonally. Place on a baking sheet. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 18-20 minutes (until golden brown and delicious). Cool on cooling rack.
Once scones are cooled, mix together softened butter and 2 Tbsp. reserved balsamic reduction/strawberry juices (add more balsamic reduction to make the 2 Tbsp.). Whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Put icing into a ziplock bag, cut a hole in the corner and drizzle on scones. Serve! (If you are not serving the scones right away, put in refrigerator to firm up the icing)