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Request for unusual dessert to impress

I'm spending a weekend in Sonoma with a bunch of serious foodies and am requested to bring a dessert. I'd like to bring something that is sweet and savory, herbaceous, possibly with chocolate. It also has to travel well (either baked, or as partially assembled to be baked there) I'd love for it to be weird, delicious, unexpected, and not too time intensive. Any suggestions?

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  1. What about cornbread pound cake with sugared rosemary and accompanying rosemary syrup? We made it for American Thanksgiving to rave reviews. You could do a chocolate drizzle or a rosemary-infused chocolate sauce instead of a syrup if you really want the chocolate element.

    2 Replies
    1. re: AmandaEd

      can you post either the recipe or a link to it? thanks

    2. How about sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce? It's not beautiful, but everyone raves about it.

      1. The flourless brownies from Chefs of the Times (the chef, whose name I've forgotten, is French and was chef at Petrossian in NYC. They are very sophisticated ... with candied orange peel and cinnamon (I've also made a variation with candied lemon peel and cardamom).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Timowitz

          I have been looking for flourless brownies, would you please post the recipe. Thanks

        2. I posted this on a recent thread about bacon but this might fit your needs too - sounds great but i have yet to try it - it is from a recent food and wine:

          bacon baklava

          ingredients
          1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon
          1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
          3/4 cup coarsely chopped dates
          1 package phyllo dough
          10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
          1 1/2 cups sugar
          1 cup pure maple syrup
          1/2 cup water
          2 tablespoons bourbon
          Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange

          directions
          Preheat the oven to 400°. In a skillet, fry the bacon in batches until crisp. Drain well and crumble. In a food processor, finely chop the bacon with the almonds and dates.
          Butter a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. Lay a sheet of phyllo in the pan; trim the edges to fit and brush with butter. Repeat with 4 more phyllo sheets and butter. Spread 1 cup of the filling evenly over the phyllo. Repeat this layering of 5 phyllo sheets and bacon filling two more times. Top with 5 buttered phyllo sheets, buttering the top well.
          With a small, sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamonds. Bake the baklava for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to 325° and bake for 1 hour longer, or until nicely browned.
          Meanwhile, combine the sugar, maple syrup, water, bourbon and orange zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then let cool to room temperature. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let stand at room temperature uncovered overnight.

          1. "The Last Course," by Claudia Fleming is a wonderful dessert cookbook with many choices that would probably meet your criteria. Fleming was the pastry chef at Gramery Tavern in NYC. Just one example: she does a strawberry short cake that is essentially traditional...except that the strawberries are macerated with some fresh tarragon and tarragon goes into the whipped cream. Lots of stuff like that. The last chapter aggregates some of the recipes into Fleming's signature "trios." My word. Kind of like a dessert tasting plate, with three complementary sweets.

            1. I saw these yesterday on a foodblog and I read all her description before reading the recipe and it does sound awesome to me..especially the unusual addition of the fennel in the cream cheese icing..however, cupcakes are not something I make and it made me very curious..
              Here's the link for the Chocholate Cherry Cupcakes with Fennel Cream Cheese Icing

              Who doesn't enjoy cupcakes??? lol I haven't had them in years

              http://cupcakeblog.com/index.php/cate...

              1. I am a huge fan of the sweet herbed desserts - Lavender infused fruits, cardamom or star anise are fantastic with chocolate as well as just about everything, peppercorn cream or ice cream, I recently made lemon thyme shortbread.

                I just take a recipe that isn't savory that I like and then add savory to it.

                For inspiration take a look at dessert menus online and I get a lot of inspiration from chocolate truffle combinations or ice cream.

                I have been meaning to Ta Ko http://www.khiewchanta.com/archives/d...

                Seseme is also really tastey.

                1. Chocolate Zin, a chochlatey rich pot of chocolate, served in little cups with a little whip cream, Made with eggs, dark chocolate, and zinfandel. Choose a Napa wine for the zinfandel and side it with a lavender shortbread wafer or cookie...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Or poached pears in wine, basil gives wonderful citrus flavor too. Easy and pretty.

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      Choose a Sonoma wine or you will be walking home.

                    2. If you have acess to fresh figs, this tart definitely has a great sweet and savory balance.

                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: h2o

                        What an amazing bunch of suggestions, thanks so much! I'm curious about the chocolate zin- what are the proportions of choc/egg/wine? The bacon baklava sounds amazing too and should be easy to transport (apropos, I have some Virginia smoked slab bacon from Christmas that I need to use up). The rosemary cornbread sounds great too. And I'm definitely looking into "The Last Course." I'm not generally into desserts as they tend to be too sweet for me, but the ideas you have posted are really piquing my interest.

                        1. re: desylicious

                          belgian ale five spice chocolate torte with milk chocolate cream quenelle

                      2. I'm not hugely into desserts either, and find that carrots make a great "surprise guest" ingredient in subtle not-too-sweet desserts. Prettily molded carrot puddings or flans (though they might not travel well), carrot cheesecake, etc. Might be able to work some herbs in there somehow, though I like to keep it simple with some sweet young organic carrots and maybe a little of a high quality honey for your sweetener.

                        Speaking of cheesecake, rosemary wine syrup works well with things like cheesecake (maybe one with gorgonzola dulce?) And cheesecake does have the advantage of feeding a lot of people without being too time consuming...

                        1. Not that unusual per se, but always received by rave rave reviews and gets met with future requests... Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread (not the cake) on Epicurious. I usually make it in loaf pans. It not only travels well, but gets better with age, so it would be perfect to make beforehand. Sorry that it's not exactly what you requested, but damn it's fantastic.

                          1. In the Babbo cookbook, there is a recipe for rosemary olive oil cake - it was amazing, sort of sweet, sort of savory and would go beautifully with a dessert wine.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: KeriT

                              I've tried this and it is delicious. It was served with whipped cream, and garnished with toasted pine nuts and candied orange peel. It paired very well with an Ice Wine. Rosemary is very popular in California--sure to be satisfactory and will travel well.

                            2. I have a recipe for an orange and rosemary cornmeal cake that is excellent and not too sweet. It was a big hit.
                              For a very unusual take on chocolate, there is a chocolate mousse with sea salt topped with olive oil to be found on the recipes portions of this site.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: maestra

                                Where can I get this recipe? It sounds interesting. Is it the same one that Amandaed, posted the link to epicurious.com above?

                                1. re: MsMel608

                                  Here it is, though I did get confused in my memory between this olive oil cake and an orange-cornmeal cake. This one does not contain cornmeal, but it had a dense texture that made a small piece very satisfying. I think it's a Michael Chiarello recipe.
                                  I didn't add the anise seeds (don't care for them in baked goods), and I didn't have marmelade to use as a glaze. Instead, I made a glaze by cooking down more OJ, sugar, and rosemary.

                                  Olive Oil Cake
                                  1 cup fresh orange juice
                                  1 teaspoon fine salt
                                  3 large eggs, room temperature
                                  1 1/4 cups whole milk
                                  2 cups sugar
                                  1/4 cup orange liqueur, rum, brandy or whisky
                                  1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pans
                                  1 tablespoon lemon zest
                                  2 teaspoons anise seed
                                  2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, divided
                                  2 cups all-purpose flour
                                  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
                                  1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                                  6 tablespoons lemon or orange marmalade
                                  2 fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish
                                  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 2 (10-inch) round cake pans.
                                  In a nonreactive saucepan, reduce the orange juice over medium heat to 1/4 cup. Add salt, stir, and let cool.
                                  Lightly beat eggs with paddle attachment in standing mixer on high for 1 minute until frothy. Add milk, sugar, liqueur, olive oil, reduced orange juice, lemon zest, anise and 1 teaspoon rosemary. Mix for 1 minute until well blended. Mix in the flour, baking soda and baking powder until well blended and smooth.
                                  Pour half of the mixture into each oiled cake pan. Bake for 1 hour. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and place it on a plate. While the cake is still warm, smooth 3 tablespoons of marmalade onto the top of each cake. Sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary evenly over both cakes. Garnish center with rosemary sprig. Cut each cake into wedges and serve.

                              2. This is one of my faves: http://blog.livedoor.jp/pain_au_choco...
                                You can add choc chips to shake it up.

                                This one is beautiful, and everyone always wonders what the "secret ingredient" is:
                                http://www.thebirkettmills.com/recipe...

                                1. So, t-minus 24 hours until Sonoma and I have chosen to make two of your suggestions- the bacon baklava and the rosemary olive oil cake. Both look like they will travel well, will be unusual and interesting, and will complement the Cal-Med vibe of the place as well as the wines that are the focus of the weekend.

                                  Y'all are so smart.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: desylicious

                                    let me know how the baklava is received and how it tastes! good luck.

                                    1. Iron Chef has some savory dessert recipes. Google "Roquefort Sauterne Ice Cream".

                                        1. re: afrikando

                                          The bacon baklava disappeared immediately. I got mouth kisses for that one. It was sweet and savory and sticky and traveled well. I made the mistake of cooking the bacon longer than suggested and I think that contributed a slightly unpleasant burnt flavor to the dish, but over all it was received really well. Mouth kisses.

                                          The olive oil cake ended up being eaten with breakfast, and was great with coffee. I used a really nice, really special olive oil for this, and I don't think I needed to. I would have preferred something stronger and more herbaceous; the oil was too "douce" and didn't stand up to the rosemary or the baking.