Turn dessert into a smoke show – no bell required



An artisanal confectionery arrives at the table as a final dish, covered in a glass bell filled with swirling smoke. As the waiter sets the dish on the table, he lifts the bell and acrid smoke escapes, floating around the dessert. It’s dramatic and heady, obscuring the line between sweet and savory; the smoke creates a delicious but surprising effect.

The technique of smoking at the table is now ubiquitous in high-end restaurants. And while the performative presentation might be a bit of a stretch for the average home cook, adding smoky flavors to desserts is quite doable, no bell required. Here are five ways to do it.

1. Cook with a real fire

The most obvious way to incorporate smoke flavor into candy is, of course, to use fire and smoke. Non-smoker? No sweating. It’s easy to grill a variety of fruits, from pineapple and citrus to stone fruit. From there, imparting a smoky flavor to your dessert recipe is a snap.

Some simple grilling tips to remember:

  • Charcoal and wood provide the smoke and caramelization while the “cleaner” burning propane only provides the latter.
  • Fruits should be cut into large pieces or skewered in some other way; small loose pieces may slip through the grates.
  • Sweet juices can cause flare-ups and charring. Keep a close eye on the fruit as it is roasting.

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2. Smoke your ingredients

An offbeat smoker lends itself to experimenting with smoking chocolate, fruits, fats and spices, which can also make for some fun additions to your pantry. Chef Nathan Brand of Timber! In Johnson City, Tennessee, takes it one step further and uses its quirky smoker to smoke a base of vanilla ice cream.

“We really see this as a foolproof restaurant recipe,” he says, despite the counterintuitive nature of the idea.

The key to Brand’s technique is its formula. He starts off with an egg-free (“Philly style”) base, which he then smokes for about an hour over pecan wood before freezing. If the base included eggs, as cream ice cream often does, the proteins would ‘scramble’ or start to cook in the heated milk, resulting in something miles away from a smooth, creamy bite. Brand’s Philly-style base allows it to impart lots of smoky flavor in a smooth, finished ice cream.

“Every time I see a guest take their first bite,” he explains, “the look of surprise and joy on his face tells me it’s the perfect way to end a good meal. “

3. Bake with smoked fat

However, a grill or smoker isn’t the only way to add a smoky flavor to sugary treats. Chef Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar in Houston takes a decidedly Texan take on caramel candy, replacing traditional butter with melted smoked brisket fat from her neighbors, Houston Feges BBQ’s legendary barbecue.

“The fat goes off when they smoke the brisket, so they’ve got a lot, and you just have to know to ask for it,” says Masson. it’s so smoky.

Like all beef tallow, breast fat is a bit denser than pork lard (including bacon fat), which has a lower melting point, but either can be used. in caramel and beyond as a substitute for shortening, lard or up to half the fat. butter in cookies and pie crusts. Check with your local barbecue restaurant for smoked fat, or make and strain your own at home.

4. Use smoked seasonings

Spices and smoked salts can add complexity and dimension to any pantry. To add a simple smoky note to desserts, opt for smoked sea salts; a sprinkle of flaky crystals added to chocolate chip cookies, brownies or fruit fruit pies balances the sweetness with a hint of smoke and salinity. Smoked cinnamon is also a great option widely available, while black cardamom, which can be found online or at your local Asian grocery store, has a particularly heady scent.

Nicknamed “the bacon of spices” by writer Max Falkowitz, black cardamom is a relative of the more common green variety, and although both share flavor notes, the larger black pods, which are widely used in the savory cuisine of North India and China, are dried over a smoky fire, a process that gives the ingredient a bold, smoky depth.

Cheetie Kumar, chef and co-owner of Garland in Raleigh, NC, is shaking up tradition by also adding black cardamom to sugary foods and drinks, including the chai. “Anything with milk fat is wonderful,” she explains. “The husk has all of the smoky flavor and the seeds provide the minty quality, and you get that really round, smoky undertone. ”

Kumar especially likes adding black cardamom to fall and winter fruits like apples, and during the warmer months, she suggests sprinkling it over watermelon or tossing it into compound butter to brush over them. grilled apricots.

5. Add a pinch of smoked bitter cocktails

A final method, straight from the bar cart, easily gives the dessert dish a smoky element. Mix seasonal fruits, such as ripe peeled and pitted peaches (any locally grown variety, from Lemon Cling to late season O’Henry, will do) with a few drops of smoky bitter cocktails. (We have a soft spot for the smoky and salt-flavored “Pooter” bitters of Crude Bitters and Cocktail Punk’s Smoked Orange Cocktail Bitters.) Roast in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warm. until the fruit is fair begins to soften; the resulting quick compote can be served over granola, ice cream or a pound cake to add a sweet and smoky surprise at the end of the meal.


Smoked vanilla ice cream

Smoked vanilla ice cream
Fatima Khawaja

Get the Smoked Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe »


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