Sneaky Treats: Chefs Add Vegetables and Meat to Classic Sweets

Chefs are putting veggies, meat, and other unconventional edibles into fanciful desserts

Autumn Martin combines natural bacon, old-fashioned oats, and raisins to create her crispy and chewy cookies.

Restaurants around the world are creatively adding vegetables, meat, and spices to their seasonal desserts, providing a creative happy ending for those with a sweet tooth. While adding savory ingredients and veggies to sweets is not new, it makes for a fun culinary adventure, and the results are surprisingly delicious.

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At The Liberty Hotel’s restaurant CLINK in Boston, executive chef Joseph Margate whips up a pineapple tarte tatin with candied bacon ice cream. Similar in taste to a ham and pineapple pizza, the dessert is an upside down tart with pineapple, drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with candied bacon ice cream that's made with eggs, brown sugar, rum, and vanilla. The $10 seasonal dessert will be served until May 28.

Playing with food is not a new concept at New York’s Le Bernardin, where pastry chef Laurie Jon Moran has raided the liquor cabinet and spice rack for a trio of desserts available until the end of May.

Moran forms his interpretation of the piña colada with pineapple, coconut, and rum, along with lime, cilantro, pink peppercorn, and a coconut rum gelée set with sodium alginate and thermo reversible pectin. And the Black Forest cake is familiar in taste but lighter and fruitier than traditional Black Forest cake — Moran’s creation is composed of cherry gelée, a light, creamy dark chocolate cremeux made with chocolate, crème anglaise, and gelatin, and cocoa nibs from Mast Brothers Chocolate, and also features a translucent cherry tuile, vanilla kirsch bavaroise with a brandy-soaked cherry inside, Belgian cherry beer sorbet, and moist and sticky chocolate devil's food cake. Then, there’s the crumbly yet delicate yuzu meringue tart, which features black sesame meringue, yuzu cream, and mango-Thai basil sorbet. "I was inspired by a classic lemon meringue tart and wanted to take those flavors in more of an Asian flavor profile direction and try to completely reconstruct it into something new," said Moran.

The inspiration for many a chef’s creative impulse is based on the seasons. Such is the case with the "tomate confite farcie aux douze saveurs" served in the summer at Paris’ L'Arpège. The €39 treat features a tomato stuffed with 12 different spices, herbs, and fruits, which are caramelized and candied in orange juice and served with seasonal ice cream. The taste is reminiscent of rose petal jam.

Fortunately, you don’t have to travel the globe to try Autumn Martin’s sweets. From her Seattle kitchen, she prepares a spicy chile molten cake, an $8 take-and-bake cake made with chocolate, sugar, eggs, and a mix of dried ancho, pasilla, guajillo, and chipotle chiles that comes in a mason jar. The result is rich, dark chocolate with hints of smokiness and a little heat that lingers. While we’ll have to wait until the winter to sample it, Martin sells bacon, oatmeal, and raisin cookies for $9 on her web site. The chewy and crispy cookies are baked with natural bacon, old-fashioned oats, and raisins. The oats and raisins gently compliment the smoky bits of crisp bacon — all breakfast counterparts at their best.