Vegetables make a foray into dessert

Mushroom ice cream sandwiches

First salads made inroads into breakfast; now vegetables take aim at dessert. This trend stretches far beyond carrot cake, pumpkin pie, or the occasional hot pepper in a custard: according to Huffpost Taste, chefs are increasingly making desserts using savory vegetables like beets and mushrooms.

Some of the choices are logical extensions of familiar flavor profiles. Fennel's licorice flavors shine in strawberry-fennel chiffon with black garlic ice cream and fennel-oil jam at San Francisco's Central Kitchen. Winter squash, a close relative of pumpkin, is a key ingredient in James Beard Award-nominated chef Jonathon Sawyer's Opera Torte, served at Cleveland's Greenhouse Tavern. Other vegetable choices are less conventional: Kory Stewart of San Francisco's Hotel Vitale serves candy-cap mushroom ice-cream sandwiches (candy-cap mushroom gelato surrounded by butterscotch-pecan cookies, served with brown-sugar caramel). And three-time James Beard Award nominee Chef Luciano Del Signore is serving golden beet and tomato-water sorbets at Detroit's Bacco Ristorante.

Not every chef is enamored with this trend. "I'm honestly tired of all this sesame-seed ice cream and shiso jelly," says Chef Anthony Salguero of Oakland's Bistro Michel. "I've done that. I've done the foams. It's fun, but I think some things should be kept as simple as possible. I'm going to make chocolate fondant and crème brulée in the traditional ways, but I'm going to make the best chocolate fondant and crème brulée that I can." 

What do you think of vegetables like mushrooms making their way onto the dessert cart?

Photo of candy-cap mushroom ice cream sandwiches courtesy Huffington Post Taste


  • ellabee  on  5/5/2014 at 9:35 PM

    In the abstract it sounds forced and unappealing, but the actual example illustrated (the candy cap mushroom ice cream sandwich) looks and seems from the description pretty enticing! Maybe more of a restaurant than a home cooking item. Aida Mellonkamp has a caramelized fennel tarte tatin recipe in Keys to the Kitchen that's a home cooking example; I am definitely going to try it in 2014.

  • boardingace  on  5/6/2014 at 7:23 AM

    I think it's cool that chefs are experimenting (reminds me of the show Chopped and others like it), and I simultaneously understand where Chef Anthony is coming from.... on one hand, new flavors are out there to be discovered, and on the other hand, I want to eat the most yummy dessert more than I want to eat the most innovative one.

  • Queezle_Sister  on  5/6/2014 at 4:00 PM

    I've tried a candy cap mushroom creme brulée, and it was awesome. And of course nobody blinks about rhubarb desserts. And Jeni's ice cream in sweet corn flavor is out of this world. I say bring it on, I've always got room for (weird) dessert.

  • Rinshin  on  5/6/2014 at 9:57 PM

    Depends. To me, there is nothing strange about shiso jelly coming from Japanese background. Shiso is made into wonderfully tart/sweet drinks during summer months in Japan. Red shiso makes beautiful red color and taste is amazing in savory and sweeter recipes. As long as it's not forced idea, I'm ok with it.

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