BOKA Balsamic Jelly (sort of)

14 Mar

I never really read Bon Appetit magazine before because I thought the recipes were just too complicated! But ever since I began taking on the adventure of cooking untraditional and challenging recipes, the fancy foods that always intimidated me are no longer my vice. Now, I rip out recipe after recipe from the magazine! Hopefully I will get to try them all, but for now, let’s talk about the Balsamic Jelly from BOKA Kitchen + Bar in Seattle, my hometown.

A Bon Appetit reader wrote in: “Dear Bon Appetit, I enjoyed the balsamic jelly at BOKA KITCHEN + BAR in Seattle. It would be great as part of a cheese plate.” It sounded unique and interesting and, hey, it’s a Seattle restaurant and every time I see the word ‘Seattle,’ I get excited. Ironically, I was visiting Seattle at the time, so I ripped the recipe right out of the magazine and brought it back to New York to try out in my test kitchen.

Balsamic Jelly Ingredients:

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin (to make kosher, use unflavored jell dessert)

6 Tbsp honey

sliced crusty bread

I poured the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, sprinkled the kosher jell dessert over and let it stand until the jell softened, around 10 minutes. After the time was up, I noticed that the jell was not soft and I’m not sure what I did wrong. I’m thinking that the kosher jell dessert powder is different from the unflavored gelatin that the recipe calls for. I continued following the directions just in case things would still work out. So I stirred the vinegar over medium heat until the jell dessert dissolved and the mixture was hot (do not bring to simmer).

At this point, Nora woke up from her nap so she helped me with the rest of the process.






I removed the mixture from the heat and stirred in the honey using one hand while Nora reached for the spoon.





I divided the mixture among 4 small ramekins and chilled it until the jell should have set, around 8 hours.

I opened the fridge hours later to find that the mixture was only a little thick but certainly not set like a jelly. I let it go a little while longer but nothing changed. Was it Nora? The kosher jell substitute?  I just can’t figure out where I went wrong, but I decided to try the “jelly” anyways to see how it tasted. I spooned it on some crusty bread and the flavor had a VERY strong balsamic taste. I have to assume that the fully set jelly would be just as strong since the original recipe calls for unflavored gelatin.

Anyone have any thoughts on why my balsamic jelly did not actually become jelly?


5 Responses to “BOKA Balsamic Jelly (sort of)”

  1. Stefanie March 14, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    I find that I always have to use less liquid than what the package says or it is just too loose. Ask Pops – he was a jello guru for a while!

  2. Miriam March 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I’m a friend of Stef (by way of explanation how I got here).

    Couple thoughts:
    1. The gelling agent is not the same as real gelatin. It is plant based, rather than animal based, and reacts very differently.
    2. The acid from the vinegar may have disrupted the gelling process.
    3. There is a kosher certified brand of gelatin… and I do believe they make an unflavored version. I’d look for that and try again.

    • kitchen tested March 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

      Thanks Miriam! I will search for the kosher gelatin. If you come across it, let me know what the brand name is! I can’t wait to try the jelly again and maybe I can get it right.

  3. Jessica Yunger March 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    I think the best kosher gelatin substitute is agar agar. I know you can find it in Whole Foods. I’ve never used it, but apparently it’s really like gelatin and often used in non-kosher application and by non kosher applicants!

  4. Miriam March 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    The brand name of the one real gelatin I’ve seen is Kolatin. It is certified by the O-U.

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