Herbs and baking have gone hand in hand for years when it comes to the savory side of baked goods. Breads have been studded with parsley, rolls with rosemary and loaves with thyme. But why let savory goods take the show? Let’s work with herbs in other baked confections.
Here are some general rules of thumb for working with herbs in baked goods. In most baking applications, both fresh and dried herbs are recommended for different applications; fresh when used as a garnish and dried when the herb goes into the mix or batter. When working with dried herbs exclusively, less is more; they’re a more concentrated flavor and can easily overpower the dish. Fresh herbs are to be treated delicately and some can bruise easily. Woodier herbs like thyme and rosemary are to be removed from their stems and the stems are to be discarded.
Lavender can easily be worked into your sweet treats and can now be purchase dried and fresh. Work lavender honey, a great farmers market or specialty store find, into a shortbread dough for a faintly floral cookie. Add dried lavender to a pound cake recipe and glaze with a simple lemon glaze to accept the bright notes in the herb.
Thyme most commonly pairs with lemon, but also offers a great stand alone flavor that is mildly woodsy and fragrant. Add thyme to fig recipes to bring out the brightness in the fruit. Surprise guests with a slightly more savory goat cheese cheesecake and add a bit of time to the mixture to cut some of the more pungent flavors in the goat cheese. Lemon is the old favorite for thyme and makes a delicious addition to lemon cakes, cookies and icings.
Rosemary lets another citrus come into play: oranges. Rosemary gets along great with the flavor of oranges, including the striking blood orange down to sweet Clementines. Make an orange pot de crème and add rosemary to the cream before baking and garnish the final product with additional fresh rosemary. You can also brulee orange halves by covering orange halves in raw sugar and use a torch to brulee them, garnish with fresh rosemary and enjoy the earthy flavor the rosemary brings to the party.
Mint is the universal friend to fruit flavors in baking. Add mint leaves into a treasured berry jam recipe to broaden the flavors in the berries used. Mint and chocolate have long time companions and that classic combination will not be ignored here. Pair mint with dark chocolate in a classic dark chocolate mousse for a cool taste profile. Mint also pairs well with another well-known citrus: limes. Add mint to nearly any lime dessert from pies to mousse to curd and it will certainly brighten up the dish.
Working herbs into your dessert rapport can be a useful way to create fanciful and creative desserts. These desserts can please crowds, expand your baking prowess and use what’s around you, be it in the form of an herb garden, farmers market or just herbs on hand. Desserts with herbs are fresh, new and exciting front for pastry with incredibly tasty results.