July 14, 2010
by Gareth Mark
That glistening, dark river of sauce on the ice cream is made with balsamic vinegar. Not just any balsamic, of course, but a Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar from Benessere, an oil and vinegar store in downtown Portland. Coffee and chocolate are an excellent pairing, so I also used some Espresso Sugar from The Spice and Tea Exchange, also in downtown Portland. Full disclosure: I teach at both stores, and they donated the products I used.
This sauce is simple to make. Pour one cup of Dark Chocolate Balsamic into a small saucepan and add 1½ ounces of Espresso Sugar. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by about one quarter. If you want it a bit thinner--it's rather thick--reduce less. I store it in the refrigerator, but it needs to be at room temperature or slightly warmer to serve.
If you are unable to find Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar where you live, you can use any good, aged balsamic vinegar. You could also substitute other flavored sugar, or even plain sugar if you want. Adjust the amount of sugar to the acidity and bitterness, if any, of the balsamic you're using and you'll end up with an excellent dessert sauce.