Savory-ing Sweets


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Savory-ing Sweets is an article written by Claudia Fleming in The Los Angeles Times, where she explains how she creates her desserts that often incorporated savoury ingredients.

Read the article

Curious about her desserts? Here are a few recipes to try.

Yield: 4 servings

Pineapple is probably my favorite tropical fruit. Served fresh, it's cool and juicy. But when caramelized and roasted with vanilla and rum, it turns succulent, taking on buttery, toasty, candied characteristics that make this dish seem almost like a crustless tarte Tatin. Pink peppercorns lend intrigue, with a spicy, slightly floral scent. Make sure to use a fragrant, ripe pineapple for this recipe.

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 rings
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum (preferably Meyers's)
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place 1/4 cup water in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet over low heat. Add the sugar and corn syrup and increase the heat to high. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a deep amber-brown caramel, about 7 minutes. Add the pineapple, vanilla pod and pulp, and bay leaf and bake, basting every 10 minutes until the pineapple is tender and translucent, about 40 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pineapple to a serving platter either placed in a low oven, or tented with foil to keep warm. (Alternatively, let the pineapple cool in the pan, then reheat for a few minutes before making the sauce.)

To prepare the sauce, whisk the butter, rum, pink peppercorns, and salt into the hot pan juices until smooth. Serve the sauce spooned over the roasted pineapple.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve the pineapple with Passion Fruit-Pineapple Sorbet for an icy, tart contrast.
Serve the roasted pineapple with slices of juicy fresh pineapple to brighten its flavor and scoops of Black Pepper Ice Cream to intensify the spice.
Sprinkle the pineapple with macadamia nut brittle to add crunch.


The recipe for this moist, dark fragrant gingerbread pays tribute to Dona Ambramson and Stuart Tarabour at the Bright Food Shop, a terrific little Mexican-fusion café in Chelsea, where I've spent some time. This was my favorite of their desserts and it has since become a seasonal classic at Gramercy Tavern, though I've made a few adaptations and embellished a bit. My recipe has just a touch of cloves, and instead of just the ginger and the cinnamon in a typical gingerbread, I use a panoply of spices including cardamom, nutmeg, and a lot of fresh ginger, to give the cake a racy, intriguing flavor.

The most unusual thing about this recipe is that stout, or beer, is substituted for the water or coffee used in most gingerbread recipes. I find it adds a lot of richness and underscores the spices. Since it is made with oil, this cake will stay moist for several days. Dress it up or simply enjoy it on its own, with tea, coffee, or a beer!

1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup molasses
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh gingerroot

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a loaf pan, line the bottom and sides with parchment, and grease the parchment.

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the baking soda. Allow to sit until the foam dissipates.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs and both sugars. Whisk in the oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.

Combine the stout mixture with the egg mixture, then whisk this liquid into the flour mixture, half at a time. Take care not to overmix. Add the fresh ginger and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Do not open the oven until the gingerbread is almost done or the center might fall in slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve this cake with scoops of Ginger Ice Cream for a creamy counterpoint that also explores another facet of ginger flavor.
A garnish of Caramel Blood Oranges and a dollop of crème fraîche make a cool, bright partner for the spicy cake.

Yield: 6 servings

This is a simple, delicious dessert that also makes a warming and special brunch dish or breakfast. Although many baked apple recipes are on the lean side (my mother always ate them when she was dieting), my version is luxurious, yet still homey. I stuff the apples with a mix of brown sugar, dried fruit, and nuts, then bake them in a sauce of apple cider, maple syrup, and plenty of butter, which cooks down to a rich, thick glaze. I like to use Cortlands here because of their good squat shape and their complex fruity flavor, but any firm, tart baking apple will do.

1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons dried cherries, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons chopped dried figs
2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons toasted pecans, roughly chopped
6 large, firm baking apples, such as Cortlands, cored but not peeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1/2 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, dried fruit, and nuts.

Place the apples in a baking pan or casserole dish and stuff their cavities with the fruit and nut mixture. Place a piece of butter on top of the stuffing.

Pour the apple cider and maple syrup in the bottom of the baking pan and bake the apples, basting every 5 to 7 minutes, until they are tender, 25 to 35 minutes.

When the apples are tender, transfer them to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer the mixture until it becomes syrupy and reduces to a sauce, about 10 minutes. Serve over the apples.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve the apples with scoops of Ginger Ice Cream or a dollop of crème fraîche or yogurt for a creamy contrast.
Serve the apples alongside slices of Guinness Stout Ginger Cake for a warming autumnal treat.

Copyright [emoji]169[/emoji] 2001 by Claudia Fleming.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
I have tried quite a few of Claudia Fleming recipes from her cookbook The Last Course. From the three mentionned here I tried the Roast Pineapple With Pink Peppercorn and the Maple Baked Apples With Dried Fruit And Nuts.

I didn't put a bay leaf with the pineapple. I didn't want to have too many different flavours in one dessert. I served it with the pineapple sorbet from Alfred Portale's Twelve Season.

As for the Baked Appples I omitted the dried cherries and only used pecans.
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