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Spices that add an extra oomph to dessert

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Bored of sickly sweet endings to your meals? Try adding spices or savoury herbs to them.

Although normally used with savoury foods, the following herbs and spices can add both flavour and depth to desserts and baked goods. Some even come with the added advantage of filling the kitchen with mouth-watering aromas.

Chili powder

The use of chili to spice up a serving of hot chocolate dates back to the ancient Mayans. Chili in chocolate can not only be a good pick-me-up, but provide extra warmth in cold seasons.

To really treat yourself, use good quality chocolate and an induction cooker like the Electrolux EIH600 to melt the chocolate into a drink.  Induction hobs are particularly suited to such a task, which requires a gentle, consistent heat for best results. Melt the chocolate with milk and chili powder to taste for a drink that has been prized for centuries.

Ginger

Like chili, ginger can add a spicy kick to any dessert. You can top ice creams and puddings with candied ginger, or use powdered ginger in baking and fruit sorbets.

A favourite dessert in Hong Kong is to boil sweet potatoes with ginger, rock sugar and red dates. This sweet and spicy soup can be served hot or cold. Ginger can also be added to milk tea for a warm, spicy beverage to end any meal.

Salt and pepper

These condiments don’t just go well with the main course, they can add a savoury zing to dessert that will intrigue the taste buds.

A rustic peach dessert can take the form of a pinch of freshly ground black pepper combined with fresh peaches and a tablespoon of honey.  Sauté for three to four minutes in a pan and serve with vanilla ice cream. Or try a sprinkling of sea salt on cupcakes topped with a chocolate ganache for a surprisingly harmonious blend of flavours.

Sea salt cupcakes
By: thedomesticgoddesswannabe.com
Sea salt on chocolate cupcakes can provide a memorable and intriguing contrast in flavours.

Savoury herbs

Fresh herbs like basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary are most commonly used in savoury dishes. But, when added to cakes, ice cream and cookies, they can add to and enhance the flavour of desserts.

Rosemary sorbet
By Nikchick
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikchick/2491034681/
Give desserts like sorbet an extra kick with herbs like rosemary and mint. 

Try to use fresh herbs, as their dried counterparts can sometimes impart a twinge of bitterness.  Be sparing in their use, as too much can overwhelm the dessert and turn it into a savoury dish.

Mincing the herbs is the key to properly spreading out its flavour into the dish. You don’t want too much of the herb in one bite,  and none in the next. To give a dessert just a hint of a herb’s flavour, you can infuse it in water or milk. Simply combine the herb with the liquid, simmer, strain and add the resulting mixture to the dish.

Need a quick, easy and elegant dessert recipe with a difference? Check out Chef E’s Fresh Strawberries with Balsamico Vinegar and Vanilla Ice Cream recipe!

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