I had a large container of very fresh strawberries. I wanted some combination of sugar and balsamic to go on them. A dipping sauce? Sure, but it’s been done. How about candy? Nah, it would wilt the berries.
Or would it?
I had to try.
I heated about 2 cups of sugar, along with about a 1/2 cup water and a couple tablespoons of corn syrup to stabilize it. (I know, I know, you candy pros out there can skip that. I get a crystallized mess if I don’t do it this way.) Added a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar. When the goo reached 300ish degrees, I grabbed the berries by their greens and dipped oooohhhhh so carefully — that sticky, scalding-hot sugar won’t let go if you touch it!
In fact, let me interrupt myself to just suggest you use a skewer in the top of the berry. So I told you. All blame/guilt removed.
A few seconds after dipping into the sugar, I gently pressed the berries against a pile of freshly grated parmesan or lemon zest. Use really good parm here; mine was a sorta-good brand but wanted a more robust flavor. You’ll get the hang of how long to wait before dipping…too soon, and you’ll smoosh the sugar coating and melt the parm, and too late, it won’t stick.
The result: a crunchy, delightfully bizarre summer treat.
If you try this, prepare to eat or serve immediately. As beautiful as they were right after dipping, they did start to wilt and bleed within about 20 minutes.