Sunday, April 3, 2011

No Cake Until You Eat Your Vegetables

For several years now, it has been my mission to make the desserts at Park Kitchen a natural extension of a vegetable focused menu. At first, this meant that instead of using tropical fruits in my desserts like many restaurants do, I would utilize the natural sugars of vegetables instead. You won't find mango or pineapple on my dessert menu, but you might find beets, fennel, carrots or parsnips. As this repertoire developed, I gradually decreased the amount of sugar in my recipes, and began adding more salt. I've never liked hiding flavors with excess sweetness, as so often happens.

I found that adding salt enhances not only the natural flavors, but also the perception of sweetness without actually being more sweet. Most people have experienced an extreme of this in salted caramels, something that has an awful lot of sugar in it, but the salt brings out the richness of caramelization.

Now, I am able to focus on bringing these elements together in pleasing varieties of texture and temperature. My chocolate cake is served with a frozen parsnip custard, which is covered with a roasted white chocolate ganache, and sliced parsnips that have been poached in milk and honey. Roasted white chocolate tastes like dulce de leche, but is not as sweet. It makes a nice bridge for the creamy parsnips, and the rich dark chocolate, and the layers of warm and cold are delightfully refreshing.

You don't have to feel guilty about dessert,


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