Intro: Caprese Bites
I've always wanted to try my hand at molecular gastronomy so I searched the Instuctables world and came across these Caprese Bites by crisaphi: https://www.instructables.com/id/Caprese-Bites-with...
That recipe uses agar agar from a molecular gastronomy kit, but since I wasn't able to find those exact measurements, and more importantly, wasn't able to find agar agar at my local supermarket, I came up with an alternate way to make the balsamic pearls with gelatin. I hope you enjoy this recipe and maybe even decide to make your own molecular gastronomic creations at home! :)
Step 1: Ingredients
For this recipe, you will need:
2 dozen cherry tomatoes (try to find the roundest ones you can since those will work best with the spherical mozzarella balls)
1 8oz container of ciliegine fresh mozzarella (basically fresh mozzarella in small sphere shapes)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 packets of gelatin
3 Tbsp water
~2 cups grapeseed or vegetable oil, chilled in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (these oils don't solidify when chilled which is important when we make the balsamic pearls. You cannotuse olive oil since it hardens in the fridge)
fresh basil (if you don't have your own basil plant, you should be able to find packets of fresh basil along with other herbs at a local supermarket)
olive oil for drizzling
salt for seasoning
Step 2: Some Specific Materials You Will Need...
In order to make the balsamic pearls, you will need to have one small bowl that fits into a larger bowl. This is how we will create the ice water bath.
You will also need to have some sort of squeezy bottle. You could use a condiment bottle or anything of a similar structure. I found mine at Michael's in the chocolate candy making section.
Step 3: Making the Balsamic Mixture
Combine the two packets of gelatin and 3 Tbsp of water in a small bowl.
Bring 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium-low heat. While you are waiting for the vinegar to boil, work on making the ice water bath which is described in the next step.
Add hot vinegar to gelatin and mix until smooth.
Pour into the squeezy bottle.
Step 4: Making the Ice Water Bath
Add ice, a couple tablespoons of salt, and about 1/2 cup of water into the larger bowl. Add in the smaller bowl and adjust the ice/water levels to make sure the smaller bowl sits nicely inside the larger.
Pour the chilled oil inside the smaller bowl.
Step 5: Creating the Peals
Once you have the balsamic mixture and the ice water bath made, you are ready to create the pearls!
Holding the squeezy bottle over the oil, drop 1-3 drops of the mixture quickly to create a pearl. You will see the small ball of balsamic fall to the bottom of the oil. Continue this process until you run out of the balsamic mixture. This is a pretty tedious process so have a playlist ready or something else you can listen to while you work. You could also separate the mixture into two bottles and have someone help you make the pearls.
Remember, you cannot save this mixture and you will want to work relatively quickly since the gelatin will eventually set.
Step 6: Retrieving the Pearls
Using a small strainer, separate the balsamic pearls from the oil and set aside.
Just a note: This makes A LOT of pearls--way more that you'll need for the caprese bites. With the extra, you can use them as toppings for salads or pasta or eat them on their own if you're a fan of vinegar :D Otherwise, you might consider cutting the recipe in half so you aren't left with a bowl full of vinegar pearls.
Step 7: The Assembly Process!
I set up a small assembly line process for this project:
First, cut the tops off the cherry tomatoes. You want to leave the side where the tomato was attached to the stem since this provides a nice place for the tomato to sit.
Once the tops are off, use a small to scoop out the insides of the tomatoes.
Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and add a piece of basil.
Place a mozzarella ball inside the tomato.
Season with salt and drizzle some good quality olive oil on top.
Top with some balsamic pearls and you're ready to serve! :)