There are many different spices and herbs that can be used when making desserts. Mint, lavender, lemon balm, rosemary and others add a nice flavor to sugar cookies, jellies and other sweet treats. You can even use scented geranium leaves to flavor sugars and cakes. Flowers like violets and rose petals can also be used to flavor sugar, cookies, and jellies.
Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg are traditionally used in desserts as well as savory dishes. Cardamom is an Indian spice that is often used to spice up desserts and beverages. Ginger and mace also add a bit of spice on occasion. In Mexico, they even use chilies in desserts. Did you know that hot chili blends really well with chocolate?
If you have never used a lot of spices in your desserts, you are in for a real treat. Spices and herbs add a whole new dimension to your sweet dishes. Anise adds a wonderful licorice-like flavor to baked goods. If you follow the recipes being showcased in some of the finest restaurants these days, you may be amazed at the spice combinations being used in desserts.
Recipes like ice cream infused with tarragon or strawberry shortcake covered in basil syrup are all the rage. Of course, cayenne chocolate truffles and hot peppers dipped in chocolate are another hot item. Why not try some of these unusual combinations yourself? You will learn a lot about spices and how they interact together with sweet ingredients.
The best rule of thumb to follow when you are experimenting is to go slowly. Fresh spices and herbs are full of flavor. Do not overwhelm yourself with too much of a good thing. Add a little bit at a time, tasting as you go. Once you find the perfect combination, take a lot of notes so you can replicate the results. Experimentation in the kitchen is a lot of fun; it is even better if you end up with a recipe you can make again.
Take care to only use the best herbs and spices you can afford. Many herbs can be grown in your own garden. Spices are more difficult, and most need to be purchased from a recommended source.
Recipe for Spiced Hot Chocolate with Ice Cream
This great dessert beverage works for a quiet evening at home or a party.
What You Need
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping Tablespoon instant espresso
A pinch of salt
2-1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
2 cups whole milk
Vanilla ice cream
Chili powder How to Make It
Boil the water in a saucepan. Add the vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, espresso, and salt. Let this simmer for a minute and then add the grated chocolate. Whisk until the mixture thickens. Add milk and let it simmer another minute.
Pour hot chocolate into mugs and add a spoon of vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle chili powder on top. Serve immediately.
This recipe can be made ahead of time and reheated. Use a whisk or a blender to make it foamy before serving.