How can something as American as apple pie become a Mexican apple empanada? A speed-scratch approach with such ingredients as premade pastry dough and apple filling makes the transformation easy: create pastry squares, fill and dust with cinnamon and fold into triangles. Serve with a side of dulce de leche sauce, and you have a dippable, Latin-influenced hand pie.
Recent research from Technomic shows that consumers love the basics when it comes to desserts: Today’s most preferred sweets are brownies (67 percent), apple pie (65 percent) and chocolate cake (59 percent). Yet, more research from Technomic underscores that consumers seek new flavors in restaurants, with 40 percent of all consumers—and 52 percent of millennials—indicating they would like more restaurants to offer foods that feature a combination of flavors. Diners can have the best of both worlds when desserts are built off basic foundations and finished with flavorful sauces, toppings and extras.
No matter how you slice dessert, it’s often the extras that take basic cakes and scoops of ice cream to new, exotic places.
At Tempo Dulu, an upscale Southeast Asian concept nestled in the boutique Danforth Inn in Portland, Maine, chef Lawrence Klang gives classic French pastries regional Asian accents with lime leaf, passion fruit, tamarind custard, coconut chutney, tropical fruits and spices such as saffron and star anise.
“Classic Asian desserts are extremely sweet to offset the lingering spice of the meal, but I like to bring in sour notes with tamarind or lime,” says Klang.
From subtle lemongrass to bold Indonesian spices, most classic dessert sauces take on different flavors well, notes Klang, who likes ganache and buttercreams for versatility. But he points to fresh fruit and fruit sauces as the ultimate dessert toppers, especially when enhancing the simple desserts that follow his complex, spicy meals.
“Mango is a very toothsome fruit that has complex flavors and floral notes on its own. Cooking fruit is a great way to keep flavors fresh,” says Klang. “I love to caramelize peaches, or roast pineapple and add rosemary or thyme.”
For a chef’s tasting last summer, Klang served used lime leaf, passion fruit and roasted pineapple to give Southeast Asian accents to a French pavlova. Spirits are another on-trend add-on to dessert sauces, and Klang recently reached for a splash of Thai Mekhong whisky for a sauce served with chocolate flan.
“Chocolate is not typical in Southeast Asian desserts, but people want chocolate desserts,” Klang says. “This was a way to use chocolate but still have something regional in the dessert.”
While sauces are often the first element people consider when taking speed-scratch dessert in different directions, Klang also suggests starting at the foundation of a dessert for customizable speed-scratch ideas. For example, puff pastry or pâte feuilletée is perfect for embellishing.
“You can dust it with granulated sugar and different spices and hit it in a hot oven so it really rises,” Klang says. “From there, you can fill it with almost anything. My general rule of thumb is to go with two or three components to keep flavors as pure and simple as possible.”
This post is sponsored by Sweet Street Desserts