Caramelle di Pomodoro 10.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Staff Favorites Top Tomato 2014 Aug 20, 2014

An amuse bouche that's a conversation starter, fresh cherry tomatoes are encapsulated in a thin, crackly caramel crust and garnished with a bit of basil and sea salt.

Grape tomatoes may be used, but a toothpick inserted into the stem spot of a cherry tomato stays in place extremely well. You'll need 20 regular-size toothpicks. Assembly goes fast, so be sure to have the basil and sea salt ready to apply.

Serve with pieces of a good aged Parmigiano-Reggiano and a mild, semisoft goat cheese.

Make Ahead: You will have caramel left over, which can be reserved for another use.

Storage Notes: To keep these from getting sticky, either dip and serve within the hour, or store in an airtight container then wrap the container in plastic wrap; hold at room temperature for no more than several hours.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 10 servings

  • 20 cherry tomatoes (see headnote), rinsed and patted dry
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Water
  • 2 or 3 basil leaves, rolled and cut crosswise into very thin ribbons, for garnish (chiffonade)
  • Fleur de sel, for garnish


Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; grease it lightly with cooking oil spray, wiping away any excess.

Insert a toothpick in the stem spot of each cherry tomato, arranging them on the parchment as you work. The toothpick should be firmly in place, so you can pick up the tomato easily.

Pour the sugar in a small, deep saucepan; choose a pot with deep sides to avoid any mishaps with caramel bubbling up. You need a certain depth of caramel in order to dip the cherry tomatoes properly.

Stir just enough water into the saucepan so the sugar takes on the consistency of wet sand. Use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the saucepan so no sugar crystals remain on them. Heat over medium-high heat; cook until the sugar mixture becomes completely liquid and golden; resist the urge to stir. Remove from the heat.

Dip one cherry tomato into the hot caramel so the fruit is evenly coated. Immediately return it to the parchment, then apply a few shreds of basil and a few salt crystals. To avoid creating a "foot" of pooled caramel beneath each coated tomato, allow the caramel to drip off as much as possible when held over the saucepan. Repeat to coat the next 4 cherry tomatoes.

At this point, you may notice the caramel has slightly thickened. In order to keep the coating crisp and thin, return the caramel to stove top (medium heat) just until it returns to its original liquid state. Proceed with the next 5 cherry tomatoes; repeat the warming and coating steps to use all the cherry tomatoes.

Transfer any remaining caramel to a heatproof container before the caramel in the saucepan sets.

Serve the caramelle di pomodoro within the hour, or transfer to an airtight container. Wrap that container in plastic wrap and hold at room temperature for up to several hours.

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Recipe Source

From Alex Levin, pastry chef at Osteria Morini in Southeast Washington.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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