Savoury desserts is a trend which just cannot be ignored. Sapna Sarfare lets you in on this sweet and savoury secret
There is hardly anyone who can resist sweets. We all have various levels of sweet tooth. In the world of trends, quite a few acclaimed chefs have been focusing on savoury desserts like Bacon Ice-cream, Sushi Cakes, Pizza Cupcakes or Bitter Caramel Bars. While it sounds intriguing, chances are you just do not how to approach making savoury sweets with perfection.
Why the trend?
Vedant Kanoi, Founder & Curator, foodcloud.in, removes the delusion that it has anything to with salty food. “They’re a play on your taste and mind where an item typically used in a savoury dish is put into a sweet one. There are many factors which make it a hit. Firstly, it is the novelty of the taste and ingredients. Sometimes, savoury works because we’ve had a mental and taste bud overdose of sweetness. With numerous festivals dotted across the Indian calendar, the sheer overdose of sweetness makes us rush to a savoury dessert. It gives the palate something new to taste, and is slightly more calorie conscious.”
Sohini Bhattacharyya, Head Chef at Elephant and Co Gastro Pub, feels the trend is fast catching with both chefs & people who love desserts but with a balance and not too sweet. “There is a certain amount of balance to the palate when savoury components are used in a dessert.”
The trend was always present, states Rachana Kapoor who owns Firangi Halwai Café in Panvel, Mumbai. “All of a sudden, recently, because the westerners started infusing bacons with ice creams, pizza dough and in muffin cups, we think it’s new! We have had a cultural history of having jamuns with chaat masala or guavas with chilies since ages. This was traditionally done so to balance flavours and balance our digestive juices according to each geographical area. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been presented well to be respected enough. As chefs, we look back to recognize the culture, pick out those elements, fuse them with the traditional concepts of desserts, blend in more local flavours and eating habits to tickle your senses. And diners are lapping up these experimental delights. It’s fun, fusion and definitely here to stay and lots more is yet to be experimented upon.”
The impressive list
Sohini recalls an interesting dessert. “A few years ago, a chef instructor made water-based dark chocolate ganache and sprinkled sea salt on it along with a dollop of Seville orange marmalade. The silky texture of the ganache with the bittersweet goodness of the marmalade and cleanse of the sea salt made it one of the best desserts I have had till date.”
Rachana remembers about a rage quite a few years back of ice-cream pakoras. “Those was something really intriguing as to you deep fry an epitome of sweet desserts, coat it in yet another epitome of savoury Indian snack and fuse the two to create an unexpected dish which is a savoury dessert! Another snack we recently saw Chef Gaurav Gidwani working upon was a Redvelvet Dhokla. Then there is The Chocomosa by Chef Vineet Bhatia. This is one of the most copied savoury dessert; a blend of the samosa stuffed with spice infused chocolate which is absolutely epic.”
Vedant is impressed by the coming together of flavours. “For instance, a baked Alaska made with beetroot, cheesecakes made with typically savoury cheeses such as a Chevre or a smoked blue cheese, desserts with bacon – chefs are whipping up wonders. If done correctly, a savoury item really adds depth to a dessert and is well received from an otherwise overdose of sweetness.”
Working well together
Just understand the ingredients that work well together to make that perfect savoury dessert. Vedant finds savoury items with natural sweetness go well with anything. “Zucchini for instance! If the juice is extracted, it has natural sweetness. Sea salt and herbs, if used in the right balance, can lend immense depth and enhance sweet flavours especially when put into cakes, pastries and chocolate. Basil works wonderfully well in ice creams, because when chilled, it lends a tanginess to an ice cream. Bacon in pies, breads and cookies lends depth and enhances the flavour of the dough. In fact, internationally, dough contains a heavy amount of protein which adds moisture and taste and bacon does that for us along with adding a nice texture to an otherwise ‘bready’ bite.”
Sohini suggests bacon and chocolate which apparently work well together. “Another ingredient that could work well together could be cheese and pickles.”
Tricks of the trade
Vedant reveals subtlety is the keyword here. “Experiments fail when we lose sight of the harmony of flavours and textures or when the dessert is being created only for shock value, or to overwhelm a guest’s taste buds. Savoury must be added in small doses, and should not create textures that are unknown to the palate. For those who wish to experiment with flavours, ice creams are a good place to start.”
Sohini too suggests keeping things simple. “It is still a dessert at the end of the day and we are trying to create an interesting contrast or a balance. Taste as you go, I’d say!”
Rachana also agrees on the balance factor. “A yin always needs a yang and vice versa. So essentially, to recognise what is sweet, recognize the spice and the salt as well. Just perk up your savoury quotient a wee bit and you have a good savoury element in a dessert.” She wants all to go for it and keep experimenting!
Zucchini with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
3 Tsp Cinnamon, ground
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
½ Cup Oil
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Cream Cheese, for a single tiered cake
Cut the zucchini and soak it in vinegar overnight to extract all the sweetness. Mix cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract and keep aside. Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees. Combine all the ingredients except cream cheese. Use only two cups worth of zucchini extract and half cup of ground zucchini. Stir till combined and lay into a lightly greased baking tray (round mould). Bake for about 45 minutes. Let it cool, then cut the cake into layers and layer it smoothly with cream cheese all over. Let it rest for three hours and serve. Add more sugar to suit your palate but ideally, the zucchini’s natural extract provides ideal sweetness. If you find it less, add two cups of breakfast sugar. I prefer demerara or brown sugar.
- Recipe by Vedant Kanoi, Founder & Curator, in
Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Pistachio Soil and Beetroot
For Beetroot & Wine Reduction,
1 Beetroot Puree, strained
½ Cup Red Wine
¼ Cup Castor Sugar
½ Stick Cinnamon
For Goat Cheese Panna cotta,
100 Ml Cream
50 Gms Goat Cheese
20 Gms Castor Sugar
½ Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Gelatin
½ Tsp Crushed Pepper
½ Tsp Salt
100 Ml Beetroot Juice
60 Ml Red Wine
10 Gms Castor Sugar
50 Gms Pistachio
For Pistachio Soil,
3 Tbsp Flour
3 Tbsp Oil
3 Tbsp Beetroot Puree
1/8 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Castor Sugar
For the Panna Cotta:
Soak the gelatin in two tsp of cold water and melt it. Combine the sugar milk, cream, vanilla in a pan and bring to a simmer. Break off pieces of the goat cheese and whisk it in. Remove from heat and mix the gelatin. Strain this mixture and pour into bowls and set in fridge for four-five hours.
For the pistachio soil:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process till it has a slightly grainy texture. Set oven to 100 degrees Celsius. Line a tray with butter paper and evenly spread this mix on it and bake for 20 mins. Remove from oven and crumble.
For the Beetroot and Wine Reduction:
Combine all ingredients in a pan and simmer till the liquid has reduced to half the quantity.
For the Beetroot Sponge:
Combine all dry ingredients together and wet ingredients separately. Whisk the liquid into the dry. Pour into a mug and microwave for a minute.
- Recipe by Sohini Bhattacharyya, Head Chef, Elephant and Co Gastro Pub,
Guava Chilly Cupcakes
150 Gms All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
200 Gms Condensed Milk
50 Gms Butter
1 Cups Real Guava Juice
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Pre-heat your oven to 180° C. Sieve and sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cayenne pepper in a separate bowl. Keep this aside for now. Cream the butter in a bowl with a whisk. Add the condensed milk and lemon juice. Fold in the flour mix to the butter mix. Slowly and gradually add the guava juice. The batter should be of idli batter consistency. Prepare the cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers. Pour the cupcake wrappers with this batter up to 3/4th full. Sprinkle a dash of cayenne pepper on top. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 mins till prepared. Cool on a wire rack. Once cool frost with buttercream and give a dash of lime and cayenne on top of this!
- Recipe by Rachana Kapoor, Owner, Firangi Halwai Café in Panvel, Mumbai