Sweet Endings: Chefs Who Love Savory Desserts

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
WTF cookie from Rogue Bakery

Has your sweet tooth gotten a little too sweet? Fear not-three local dessert artisans have found ways to temper the saccharine.

Stephanie Kincaid, pastry chef at Barcelona, is always looking to bring a savory dimension to a sweet treat. The pairing of salty with sweet appeals to her, as does its novelty. "It's just something different and new," says Kincaid, who recently created a bleu cheese ice cream. "People were kind of thrown off by it at first, but once they tried it they really liked it." Even more adventuresome are her plans to incorporate candy cap mushrooms into flan. "I kind of put it together in my head and think of the flavors together, and if it works in my head, it usually works," she says.

Cravings Carryout Cafe prides itself in baking savory cookies. "Sweet on sweet has never appealed to me," co-owner Matt Tewanger says. Traditional recipes are replaced by combinations like pistachio, sea salt and white chocolate. It's all about balance, he says: "White chocolate is kind of sweeter than a semi-sweet, so having that coarse ground sea salt and the pistachios kind of offsets that." Even in more traditional bakery fare-like a cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting-Tewanger doesn't add as much sugar as some dessert makers might. "Add a little bit extra salt to things," he says.

Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is a pro at transforming savory items into "mostly sweet" ice creams. But she always keeps one thing in mind. "Ice cream is always sweet first," she says. "Even if it has salt or herbs or corn or vegetables, it is dessert." Inspiration can come from anywhere. Since farmers always seem to have a glut of zucchini toward summer's end, and she loves a zucchini dish at Basi Italia, she took the squash, added parmesan and voila-parmesan and zucchini bread ice cream. For the right balance, she tries to incorporate salt into a piece of cake or cookie within the ice cream, but there is no doubt "sweet and salty just have a natural thing for each other."