I love to keep my friends guessing. “What’s in this? This is delicious,” they say as they chug a bright green smoothie. My face forms into a smile as I have them guess the secret ingredient that made it so brightly colored (spinach).
I can’t wait for my friends to dig into this one: carrot jam. The flecks of bright orange carrot make it reminiscent of salmon roe (tobiko for all of you sushi fans). But its taste is sweet and citrusy, with a slight hint of earthy carrot flavor.
Now I might have you guessing, too, because you’re thinking, “This doesn’t sound like Billy,” and you would be right. I’m Kate Shungu, and I’m excited to be working with Billy on developing recipes for his blog. I’m a lifelong food lover who stood underneath my mom and watched as she cooked dinner for our family every night. I’ve taught cooking classes at a popular health food grocer and most recently worked in marketing and recipe development for a gourmet grocery store in Chicago’s suburbs. You can usually find me in the kitchen, otherwise, you can probably find me with my nose in a book or hanging out with my husband, Longe.
Now back to the carrot jam! It was popular in World War II-era Great Britain, when wartime propaganda encouraged carrot consumption for vision health, thanks to the Vitamin A. As the result of an overabundance of carrots, children ate carrots on sticks (worst popsicle ever!) and their mothers lovingly canned carrot jam in an effort to preserve the bumper crop.
It’s also consumed and most likely has its origin in the Middle East, where it’s often served for breakfast on toast, perhaps with some labneh (a tangy, extra-thick strained yogurt). Popular additions include citrus, cardamom, and rose water. I kept it simple here, just adding lemon to balance out the sweetness and orange for more citrus flavor.
I started with a bunch of carrots with the tops on, which I think have more flavor than bagged baby carrots. I chopped them into 1-inch pieces and then transferred them to the food processor. You’re looking for rice-sized pieces, which took about 15-20 pulses. If you want an arm workout, grating the carrots on a box grater to create thin strands would be a fun alternative!
If the thought of making jam makes you nervous, I’ve got a great test to make sure it’ll set up. When you start the recipe, place a small plate in the freezer. Once the carrots have cooked with the lemon juice and sugar for about 30 minutes, remove the plate and place a dollop of the jam on the plate. Stick it back in the freezer for exactly one minute. Remove from the freezer and run your finger through the jam. If it starts to wrinkle, you did it! You made jam!
If not, keep cooking the carrot mixture and place the plate back in the freezer. Test it again in 5 minutes, and again in 5 minute intervals until the jam wrinkles as you drag your finger through it. This should take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how high the heat is. You’ll want the carrot jam to cool for at least 60 minutes in the refrigerator before you build the crostini, so plan accordingly.
Now onto building the crostini! If you’ve tasted a “proper” British scone, you’ll know that it is served with jam and clotted cream. The crumbly + sweet + creamy combination is unbeatable, so we’re mimicking that here. We started with a French baguette, cut on the bias into thin slices. Next up is the burrata, which is a basically a ball of mozzarella wrapped around a gooey center of cream. As you can imagine, it’s super creamy, especially at room temperature. You can find it near the fresh mozzarella at most grocery stores. The crisp prosciutto adds crunch and saltiness to the ensemble and the microgreens add a pop of color to finish them off.
These crostini would be a great appetizer for a spring or summer get-together. The colors are vibrant, the flavors are fresh, and the carrot jam will keep your guests guessing.
The leftover jam can be spread on toast or paired with a salty cheese like Manchego. You could also top pancakes or waffles with it, or try it spooned over a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins (hello, carrot cake oatmeal!). Any leftover prosciutto should be popped directly into your mouth. 🙂
- ¾ lb carrots (about 1 bunch)
- 1½ cups sugar
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- Zest of one orange
- 1 thin French baguette
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 8 oz burrata
- 6 paper-thin slices prosciutto
- To garnish: microgreens
- Place a small plate in the freezer for later use. Chop the carrots into 1-inch pieces. Place in a food processor and pulse until the carrots are approximately the size of rice, about 15-20 pulses.
- Combine the carrots, sugar, and the zest and juice of one lemon and orange zest in a medium sized saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
- Remove the plate from the freezer and place two teaspoons of jam onto the plate. Freeze for exactly one minute. Remove and drag your finger through the jam. If the jam begins to wrinkle, remove the jam from the heat. If not, place the plate back in the freezer and continue cooking the jam. Repeat the freezer test every 5 minutes until it wrinkles. Remove jam from the heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the baguette on the bias (diagonally) into ¼ inch thick slices. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake until lightly toasted, about 8-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, tear the prosciutto into 1½-2 inch pieces. Place on another parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Slice the burrata into 1 inch pieces.
- To assemble, place a slice of burrata on top of each baguette slice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a dollop (about 1 teaspoon) of carrot jam. Place one of the crisp prosciutto pieces into the jam. Arrange a few sprouts of the microgreens on top and serve.