Savory and sweet flavors go together like PB&J – literally! While all foods cause our bodies to release dopamine, salt, fat, and sugar create a particularly intense response, dubbed the “bliss point” when the balance is just right.
This has spurred all kinds of recipes for savory/sweet food and beverage combinations, with every corner of the food industry getting in on the game. Of course, the trick is finding new ways to blend sweet with savory to the delight of diners. After all, salt, fat, and sugar not only fire up the brain; they also make everything taste better.
What are culinary masterminds coming up with these days to transform savory dishes into something a little sweeter? Here are a few examples of the trend at work.
Okay, so this tantalizing combo is nothing new, but there are always new ways to use candied bacon to improve on existing meals. It’s a shoo-in for adding some savory sweetness to a burger, and it’s an add-on that’s more likely to surprise than shock diners.
However, you could also chop it up and sprinkle it on a taco or bake it into biscuits. Use it to elevate a grilled cheese or quesadilla. You might add it to jalapeño poppers or baked brie. Making bacon jam is even sweeter. Toss a couple of pieces in a Bloody Mary for something more innovative.
Corn Cookies and Other Confections
An argument could be made that the blame for this whole savory/sweet corn trend of late should be laid at the feet of Momofuku Milk Bar, thanks to their now ubiquitous corn cookie recipe. Still, while corn is often considered savory when used as a side, it’s a sweet and starchy grain that works great in mildly sweet baked goods.
Corn can be ground down or pureed for use not only in cookies but also in muffins, cornbread, cakes, pancakes, fritters, and more. For something even sweeter, try corn cob jelly, perhaps paired with other ingredients to make it your own. Another great way to harness the sweetness of corn is to add it to salsa.
Sweet French Fries
Starchy potatoes are served in dozens of savory ways, from mashed and roasted, to scalloped and au gratin, to soups, to salty chips and fries, and more. Every savory, salty way to prepare potatoes has seemingly been tried at this point, so how about making them sweet?
A combination of sugar (granulated or powdered), vanilla, cinnamon, and other baking spices create confectionary appeal when paired with savory, fried potatoes, resulting in a treat comparable to doughnuts, churros, or French toast.
Swapping in sweet dipping sauces like melty caramel, chocolate, or strawberry jam for the typical ketchup or Ranch dip takes the whole concept to the next level. You can also try it with sweet potato fries for even more sugary delight.
Black Bean Sweets
Black beans are often found adding robust, earthy flavor to everything from simple rice and bean dishes to tacos, chili, southwestern salads, and more.
However, these fibrous legumes can also be used as a base for a wide range of rich desserts, especially when paired with dark chocolate to dominate the flavor profile. They make for fudgy cookies, brownies, cakes, cake pops, and even delicious protein bars (beans pack a punch with the protein), with 16 grams per 1-cup serving.
When it comes to savory foods, diners tend to have specific expectations – flavor profiles that are salty or herbaceous, for example. By adding sweet elements, you have the opportunity to surprise and delight consumers and change their minds about what is possible with food.
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