5@5 - Savory ingredients for sweet endings
July 9th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Francis Ang wants to sweet-talk you to the bitter end.

"Desserts don't have to be sweet all the time," says Ang, the executive pastry chef at Fifth Floor in San Francisco.

With dishes like corn ice cream, black olive jam and sage ice cream, you'll never have to separate your savory and sweet cravings again.

Five Savory Ingredients to Use for Sweets: Francis Ang

1. Black olives
"When olives are mixed with sugar, they take on more of a blueberry flavor. This means the options are endless in what you can do with black olives - and all year-round too!

Black olive Madeleines work really well. They're sweeter than if you were just eating the olives on their own. You could also make a black olive jam or ice cream."

Black Olive Madeleines
black olive madeleine

2 oz butter
3 oz sugar
1 oz black olives (puréed with 2 Tbsp of olive brine in the blender)
3 oz all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 extra-large egg

1. Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy with the paddle attachment. While mixing, add eggs and olive purée alternately, scraping the bowl often until the purée is fully mixed in.

2. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until homogeneous.

3. Let the mixture rest overnight in refrigerator.

4. Spoon the batter into a greased Madeleine pan and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 minutes.

2. Curry
"Because most of the curry we use comes in a powder form, it’s actually very versatile. You can use a little of the powder and mix it into a cake batter or even in a cream or custard base for ice cream. In some cultures, guavas are added to curries to give them thickness and at the same time to lend some sweetness to the dish."

3. Cheese
"We’re all familiar with cheesecake, and that’s a good place to start. A unique dessert in the Philippines is cheese ice cream. The salinity of the cheese gives the ice cream a hint of umami and brings a well-rounded dessert that stands out in flavor.

I remember eating cheese ice cream as a kid, and it’s still one of my fondest memories. You can incorporate cheese into breads too - for example, a Gouda brioche is a nice salty-sweet afternoon snack. Ricotta is one of the best cheeses for dessert. And you can easily sweeten it with some orange blossom honey and pair it with an olive oil cake, or even the black olive Madeleines.

Another simple thing to try is to use a goat cheese in a cheesecake. Start with simple substitutions and then really go crazy and mix it up!"

4. Corn
"Corn is one of my favorite things - you can use it in so many ways, for both savory and sweet applications. Growing up in the Philippines, we would often use corn as a dessert. It was typically mixed with shaved ice and sweetened milk or made into an ice cream. Corn has a natural sweetness that is great for desserts such as a corn crémeux, corn ice cream, corn mousse, corn pudding...you can really do so many things with it."

Corn Crémeux
Serves 10
corn cremeux

1/2 tsp gelatin powder (bloomed in 2 ounces of cold water)
6 oz corn milk (juiced corn)
13 oz heavy cream
2 1/2 oz toasted corn tea (available in Asian markets)
3 1/2 oz sugar
6 egg yolks

1. Place gelatin in ice water and let soak until bloomed (has absorbed the water) and is soft (about 10 minutes).

2. Mix together the corn milk, heavy cream and corn tea in a saucepan, then heat. Steep for 30 minutes and strain into bowl.

3. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer until well incorporated and pale yellow in color.

4. Remove gelatin from ice water. Bring the corn and cream mixture to a boil and remove from heat. In the same pot, add the gelatin to the cream mixture and combine well. Slowly drizzle contents into the mixer with the egg and sugar mixture.

5. Pour the entire mixture into a small pot and cook on low heat, stirring simultaneously. Heat to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Pour into 10 individual small bowls and chill before serving. Garnish with fresh blueberries and shortbread cookies or vanilla wafers.

5. Herbs
"Herbs are very floral and delicious. They give a unique flavor to desserts and also add a freshness to sweets. It's best to first think about what herbs go well with what flavors. For example, stone fruits and thyme work really well together so start there, and move forward. Try a cherry jam infused with thyme, or incorporate sage into a fried nectarine pie.

But you can also infuse a cream base with that same herb, and just as easily create an ice cream. It could have been a fried nectarine pie with a sage ice cream, with some fried thyme on top as a garnish. You can infuse the herb into jams and ice creams, garnish desserts with fried or fresh herbs, or mix them directly into a cobbler or jam."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Make • Recipes • Think

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Linette Scarp

    The main type of fat found in all kinds of olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs are actually considered a healthy dietary fat. If your diet emphasizes unsaturated fats, such as MUFAs and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), instead of saturated fats and trans fats, you may gain certain health benefits. ;.'*

    Catch you later <http://www.healthdigest101.com/index.php

    June 30, 2013 at 2:32 am |
  2. JellyBean

    "Fried nectarine pie with a sage ice cream." Sounds wonderful! Good read, thanks.

    July 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  3. jillmarie@ag

    I'm all about savory- and there were some wonderful, unusual ideas in this article. Olives tasting like blueberries- who knew? I'm interested in making a version of corn pudding. Cheese and chocolate marry well together as well.

    July 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  4. Honey Brown13

    I never knew that you could so much with olives. I like what I see here.

    July 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
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