Are you stuck inside your culinary box? Ever thought of stepping outside? Are you up for bending the rules? If so and you want to challenge your palette then here’s something to think about… When you use herbs in your cooking, do you usually add them to the customary meat dishes, potatoes, salads or sauces to liven up the taste, or have you ever thought of using them in desserts? When you pair them correctly, the result is fragrant, fresh and irresistible, and it just shows you how invaluable herbs can be. For many, it’s that ‘secret family’ ingredient which brings out the undertones and sweetness to a huge range of desserts.
We’ve put together the following most popular herbs used in desserts to give you an idea of where to start. So, if you like experimenting in the kitchen you may just be able to create your own ‘family recipe’.
Many types of basil complement desserts especially lemon basil which will add a citrus flavour to summer salads or sorbets. Add sweet basil to strawberries to make a delectable tart. Basil is also wonderful with berries, Mediterranean fruits and ripe summer fruit salads.
Bright and refreshing, mint adds a refreshing twist to fruit salads, jellies, sorbets and pies. It is especially tasty with baked apples or pears. If you want a delicious garnish, melt some chocolate and paint it on mint leaves leaving it to set.
Recipe to try; childhood ice cream mousse cakes
The lemony flavour and fragrance gives a gentle citrus tang to a huge range of desserts, from cakes and biscuits to fruit salad and ice-cream.
Recipe to try; lemon meringue with lemon balm
The distinctive earthy pine-like flavour of rosemary marries well with fruits such as peaches, apricots and apples. Delicious mixed in a fruit crumble. Also it is great tasting in tarts and sorbets.
Recipe to try; chunky apple crumble
The sweet, mildly pungent taste of thyme is surprisingly delicious with bananas and citrus fruits. Lemon and thyme are a natural together. Use in scones and biscuits, summer fruit parfaits and cakes.
Recipe to try; apple and thyme crumble with thyme custard
The secret to success is to keep it simple and use your herbs sparingly. Try to use fresh herbs where possible and chop them finely. Dried herbs can work well in certain baked recipes like biscuits and cakes but using fresh in creamy, fruity fresh dishes will definitely excite your taste-buds more.
Better still; why not grow your own. You can have your favourite fresher and better-tasting herbs growing at your fingertips. Just a quick snip is all it will take to add nutrients and an incredible taste to your cooking.
If you really want to impress your dinner guests and make your desserts look ‘restaurant style’ then remember that these herbs are not just for adding to your dishes but will make a wonderful garnish too.