I had a punnet of strawberries that I’d put right at the bottom shelf of my fridge, nearly forgetting all about it. When I say nearly, I mean I actually did. And when I found them, they were screaming to be used stat. I’ve always been interested in the idea of mixing the flavours of strawberries with balsamic vinegar, and thought what better time to do that than now!

My version of strawberry jam is really more of a sauce than a jam, although I call it a jam because I wanted to use it as such in my updated rendition of the classic Victoria Sponge. All I did was I pureed 250g of fresh strawberries and poured it into a saucepan along with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. I cooked it until it’d reduced to about half of what it was, before removing it from the heat and adding another tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to finish. I know that some people prefer adding a tablespoon of sugar into the mixture at the beginning to dissolve into the puree but I decided that these strawberries didn’t need the extra sweetness.

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Balsamic Strawberry Jam

250g Strawberries
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Sugar (Optional)

  1. Puree strawberries and pour into saucepan. Add in 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and sugar if using. Cook on low heat until reduced to half. 
  2. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. 
  3. Pour into clean bowl/jar and cover directly over with cling wrap. Chill until cool enough to use.

I made a simple Rosemary Vanilla Bean Sponge Cake and sandwiched some Mango Buttercream along with the Balsamic Strawberry Jam in between the two layers. Then topped with more Buttercream and Jam.

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A simple meeting between Victoria and Cake Kingdom’s Bad Boy, and this Sassy Princess was born – Punchy Balsamic Strawberry Jam balancing its acidity with the creamy sweetness of Mango Buttercream and the piney fragrance of the Rosemary.

With a little more jam left over, I decided to make some Basil Rye Brownies and (attempt to) swirl some of the jam on top. Interestingly, they swirled themselves into oblivion post-baking. I assume in part because the jam also had more of a ‘coulis‘ viscosity to it. Still, it was present in flavour even against the rich chocolatey brownie.

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Basil Rye Brownies with Balsamic Strawberry Jam (Makes 1 8×8″ Square)

170g Butter, Melted
260g Brown Sugar
30g Water
2 Eggs

120g Rye Flour
100g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder

1 Bunch Basil, Finely Chopped

Balsamic Strawberry Jam
15g Pumpkin Seeds to sprinkle on top (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line and 8×8″ baking tin.
  2. In a clean mixing bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, water and eggs. 
  3. Add dry ingredients as well as the finely chopped basil into the wet mixture and mix until just incorporated. 
  4. Pour batter into prepared tin and pour some balsamic strawberry jam around the top and spread. The batter will be quite thick so the swirly thing won’t quite happen.
  5. Top with pumpkin seeds if using – I love how the green pops. 
  6. Bake for 20-25 min until set. Allow to cool before slicing. 

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This recipe for brownies is actually my usual go-to recipe for my most basic, fudgy brownies simply because it’s so easy to make. It only involves one bowl and doesn’t involve melting chocolate. I boosted up their nutrition factor by subbing out plain flour for rye (and reducing the amount a little) as well as using brown sugar instead of caster in a lesser quantity.

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Somehow, everything combined to make mouthful after mouthful of deliciousness – Brownies on steroids some might say. Each bite was bursting with flavour – the sweet, peppery Basil held its own against the rich, bitterness of the Cocoa, while the tartness from the Balsamic Strawberries rounded everything off beautifully.

I didn’t expect the boldness of my star ingredients to harmonise as well as they did, but they far exceeded my expectations and in doing so, I believe, deserve to be shared with the baking world!

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