How to balance sweetness in a dish can be the defining factor in something that tastes heavy and bogged down or delicious and fresh. In this lesson, we show you some ways to work in sweet to the flavor profile of your cooking. Next time you reach for a pinch of sugar, consider what else is in your pantry.
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Honey / Hot Honey.
Honey is an easy way to add sweetness because it is already in liquid form (no worry about dissolving). Of course, it works in salad dressing or over dessert but it also shines over roasted meat and when added to sauces to glaze vegetables (brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes) or over anything grilled. Hot Honey or chili-infused honey has the built-in sweet and spicy counterbalance that makes so many foods sensational (think Korean fried chicken). Use hot honey over grilled peaches and tacos to counteract any salt. Remember salt can be counterbalanced by sweet. This is why grilled halloumi or fresh feta or goat cheese with honey is so irresistible or Greek saganaki has lasted centuries.
Honeys We Recommend:
Syrups / Maple / Date / Agave
Tree Syrups (Maple, Birch, Hickory) and Plant Based Syrups like Date and Agave are aromatic ways to add sweetness to dishes. Maple can be used as a marinade or drizzled over grilled squash where date syrup or pomegranate molasses can transform any simple cheese salad. When you think of soft cheese, the salty barnyard-type flavors often need something fruity to balance the flavor profile, the same is the case of salty cured meats. Drizzle early and often, don’t pigeonhole ingredients like pancakes on maple syrup or agave syrup for desserts, experiment with a small drizzle of sweetness wherever you can. Finally, people often think you need cocktail syrups or simple syrups when often something like maple adds flavor and dimension.
Syrups We Recommend:
Caramelize Fruit on the Grill
Grilling fruit is a great way to caramelize the sugars and develop flavor. It often works well with a bit of fat. So serve grilled figs pineapple or peaches with ice cream, vanilla-infused yogurt or add lemon zest to fresh cheese like ricotta and a drizzle of honey.
An underrated smoked product is smoked sugar. It builds layers of flavor while quickly adding smokiness, sweetness and crunch (think raw sugar). Try it over grilled fruit and ice cream.
Smoked Sugar We Recommend:
The Goat Product
Without a doubt one of the fastes way to add a grassy, edge to any dessert is cajete (goat milk caramel), try this one out of Vermont.
As with smoke sugar, infused sugar is a fast way to add multiple dimensions in food. Chili sugar or citrus sugar are especially versatile in sweet and savory cooking.
Infused Sugar We Recommed:
Don’t underestimate fresh fruit in bringing bright sweetness to salad and heavier ingredients. Simply halved grapes with fried cheese or slices of strawberry or peaches with salty cured meats elevate every ingredient on the plate.
Cooking is often the case of 1 + 1 = 3 and sweet is a great example. When overused it can weigh down a dish but in simple cases like fried cheese with hot honey, the combination is greater than the sum of the parts.
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