Wednesday, September 28

Incomparable flavours, Unique Ingredients

 Extraordinary flavours in desserts to up the wow factor, is the norm today, not an exception. Since diners are well-travelled and consequently experimental, chefs have to try much harder. After all, gourmands today, expect the unexpected


From roasted corn cheesecake to matcha tea mousse and bacon ice-cream to mushroom mille-feuille, unusual desserts are common now. Vegetables, fruits, spices and even savoury non-vegetarian elements are being incorporated in desserts these days. The ingredients itself have to be the hero and the quirkier the better. Chefs are thus playing with ingredients as never before – some basic, seemingly mundane and others unconventional and unusual.


Chef Vivek Kadam, Pastry Chef, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, explains, “While getting the classics right is great, sometimes experimenting can lead to brilliant new combinations that offer guests aunique culinary experience. We look for ingredients that can best complement each other to give a perfectly balanced amalgamation of flavour, taste and quirk.”

Chef Sahil Sabhlok, Executive Chef, The Claridges, New Delhi opines, “I prefer introducing the quirky ingredient as a flavour in the whole dessert or try bringing in an element of surprise as a part of the main dessert if the experiment is too bold.  Black Truffle Ingot where black truffle paste is infused in chocolate to make pralines, or smoked pop corn used in the signature Corn Pudding, giving a new avatar to a classic dessert, is what I enjoy.”


Veggies and fruits galore

Whoever thought veggies would make their way into lip-smacking desserts? Well, chefs are unleashing their creativity and picking up vegetables for desserts too. Carrots have long been used in cupcakes and even cheese cakes, but now, the beetroot has come out of salads and risottos and caught the fancy of chefs. Cookies, brownies, cakes and halwa alike are being made using beetroot. It is the colour, which usually attract chefs and diners. Add to that the texture it imparts and you have a winning combination. This versatile and all-rounder veggie is thus favourite with chefs as they embrace its natural sweetness, combine it with milk and other ingredients to create unique desserts. From beetroot and apple doughnuts, beetroot tarts and pudding, the list is endless.


Sweet potato may not exactly be a popular tuber, yet, it is sought after by chefs and that too for desserts. So well it is camouflaged, that guests cannot even guess the main ingredient in a dessert. The texture it imparts to a cake, is what chefs love it for. Sweet potato cakes served with an orange citrusy sauce, is something chefs have created and diners are lapping it up. Flourless sweet potato brownies, are another instant hit.


The subtle and nutty flavours of parsnip along with its inherent sweetness, are suddenly being explored by chefs across the globe. From cakes to muffins, parsnips are being used for a myriad desserts. Combining spices, hung curd or zesty lemon flavours along with parsnip, enhances its flavours and chefs are going all out.

Avocado, a fruit with a subtle taste and creamy texture is also a part of a chef’s repertoire now for desserts. This fruit seamlessly meshes with chocolate, giving a velvety texture to the mousse or even puddings, yogurt and tarts. It works well with coconut, pistachios, as it does with other fresh fruits, especially berries. Chef Vivek Kadam, Pastry Chef, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, does an Avocado Brulee and Chocolate Dome. The milk chocolate is balanced by the equally natural, savoury edge of an avocado for the perfect, creamy and smooth dessert.


Tea too

Matcha or powdered green tea, with its luminescent emerald colour is having its moment of glory. It lends its hue to many desserts today from macarons to tea cakes and from creme brulee to brownies as chefs find it irresistible. It can be used along with other ingredients to create unique flavour profiles, which diners enjoy. Dark chocolate matcha cake, matcha dusted chocolate truffles, matcha oreo brownies, are typical favourites. Chocolate pairs well with the earthy flavoured matcha green tea according to chefs and thus can be used innovatively in desserts. Matcha, chefs feel is attractive in desserts owing to its colour and umami flavours.

Masala Chai, the country’s favourite local spiced tea is also being incorporated in cheesecakes and crème brulees.


Spice it up

Cinnamon has always been included generously in desserts. But chefs have now turned their attention to Star anise. The aniseed flavour of this spice is tricky and chefs have to use it with caution.  Chocolate truffles with star anise, custards with star anise, baked apples with star anise – chefs are serving it all.


Savoury is sweet

Bacon, lamb mince may sound like bizarre ingredients for anything sweet, but today, chefs are using these with flourish. Bacon has made its way into cookies and ice creams and the hint of a savoury element in a dessert, is what makes it stand out. It can easily be combined with peanut butter, milk and chocolate and converted to desserts like brownies, cheesecake and cupcakes. Chef Vivek Kadam recommends bacon Granny Smith Choux Buns
which combine the salty flavour of bacon with the light choux bun. Generous sprinklings of grilled bacon on perfectly baked choux buns with apple filling are also unique. Lamb mince, another savoury ingredient, is used to make a creamy halwa and is a delicacy in many parts of India.

So take your taste buds on a roller-coaster ride as chefs unleash their imagination and create desserts like never before.

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