Balsamic Caviar Pearls With Crostini Amuse Bouche

The Black Cat Kitchen
by The Black Cat Kitchen
10 servings
1 hr

Welcome to fun food science! Now, I certainly did not come up with the recipe for mixing a liquid with a gelatin to create little chewy balls of jam-packed flavor that resemble little fish eggs (or caviar). But, I knew when I heard about it, it had to be balsamic vinegar and it had to be used in a caprese salad type dish with tomato, cheese, and basil. Or, an amuse bouche. Make your own stunning appetizer with a little bit of prep work!

Something crazy cool happens when you mix Agar (or agar-agar) which is a vegetarian gelatin substitute with balsamic vinegar (or other oil) and use a dropped to make spherical miniature jello balls of flavor. The gelatin balls are dropped in cold oil which helps to lock in their spherical shape. You keep dropping liquid drop by drop and these collect on the bottom of the glass. Then you drain away the oil (save it for cooking later) and you have little pearls of balsamic vinegar! It is truly the coolest thing. I am now experimenting with pureed basil and other herbs as well as other fruit juice to top on yogurt, desserts, etc. This is just so much fun and with a couple ingredients you can try it yourself!

Give this a try and I hope you enjoy!

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Balsamic Caviar Pearls With Crostini Amuse Bouche
Recipe details
  • 10  servings
  • Prep time: 25 Minutes Cook time: 35 Minutes Total time: 1 hr
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Balsamic Pearls
  • 2/3 C High-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp Agar-agar powder
  • 1 C vegetable or canola oil. Do not use olive oil as it hardens in cool temperatures.
  • Clean dropped bottle or pipette/syringe. (See tip)
Crostini Amuse Bouche
  • Baguette, sliced thinly on the diagonal, toasted
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 C ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • fresh microgreens for topping (optional)
Crostini Amuse Bouche
Slice bread, toast in toaster oven or in oven at 400 F for about 6-8 minutes
Slice tomatoes
Mix ricotta with fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper
Spread ricotta onto cooled crostini pieces
Add tomatoes
Add balsamic pearls and microgreens
Top with fresh cracked pepper and salt
Balsamic Pearls
Fill a tall thin glass about 3/4 way full with canola/vegetable oil
Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes, but I found an hour worked better. This oil will not freeze, but olive oil WILL. Do not use olive oil. This oil is a vessel for creating the balls, it does not impart a flavor impact.
Heat balsamic and agar in small saucepan over low heat to start, bringing to a boil. The agar should be fully dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes
Add mixture to plastic droplet container, or a different dish to use a syringe
Get your cooled oil from freezer and begin to squeeze bottle over the oil, drop by drop. The droplets should be turning into balls and sinking to the bottom of your glass of oil. This is correct!
If the oil is staying long and streaky and not forming into a ball, your oil may not be cold enough. The oil needs to be cold enough to stop the vinegar quickly and cause it to create a ball shape. OR your balsamic may be too hot. Ensure it has cooled down enough.
Keep going! This takes some time
Once you have used all of your vinegar, you can strain out oil into another cup or glass to use later for cooking.
Now you have your little pearls remaining! These keep in the fridge about a week. I had mine maybe 1.5 weeks and they were fine. I would use sooner rather than later.
You will have about 6-8 Tbsp balsamic pearls
  • You can use gelatin instead of agar-agar, but I have not personally tried this and cannot provide recommendations on amounts, etc. I encourage you to research this.
  • I purchased 2 plastic condiment bottles with a narrow drip lid (picture for ketchup and mustard) and these worked best for me.
The Black Cat Kitchen
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