Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: This is what your dessert has been missing.
Does your best chocolate mousse seem a little plain? Brownies need a bump? Biscotti, ice cream, strawberries simply too boring for words? Here are the inspired finishing touches -- all from your pantry -- guaranteed to make good things even better.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Serve over vanilla ice cream, drizzle over almond or hazelnut biscotti, or toss with warm croutons and add to a sundae of strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce.
A grind of fresh pepper adds panache to a dish of ripe figs with fresh cheese and honey, or a bowl or strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar, or a bowl of chocolate mousse.
Sprinkle drops of orange flower water over orange slices or toss rose water with sugared strawberries or raspberries. Use either to sweeten whipped cream; serve with fruit or use to top a chocolate dessert.
Flaky Sea Salt
A tiny pinch lifts any rich creamy chocolate dessert from pudding to mousse. Sprinkle some atop a caramel sundae or vanilla ice cream drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
Use a microplane zester to grate a little cinnamon over any dark chocolate dessert, from brownies to chocolate chip cookies to chocolate pudding, or even over home made cocoa-dusted chocolate truffles. Grate over peach or nectarine slices, or a fruit salad or a dish of rice pudding.
Grate zest over fresh fruit and squeeze the juice over all. Grate the zest over a bowl of cocoa-dusted truffles along with freshly grated cinnamon just before serving. Grate zest over warm gingerbread.
What are your magic ingredients? Tell us in the comments!
Alice's new book, Seriously Bitter Sweet, is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet.
Photos by James Ransom