Pack a flavor punch in your desserts.
Ever on the lookout to amp up flavor in desserts, from mousses to macarons, pastry chefs are incorporating fruit and vegetable powders in myriad sweets. Made either by freeze drying and or with the use of infrared technology, which dehydrates without applying heat, these potent powders are being used in preparations where added liquids such as fruit purees might upset the balance in a recipe. In a vast array of flavors, from corn, sriracha and acai to blackberry and tomato, these flavorful powders pack a punch when used sparingly to accent other elements in a dessert. Whether gracing the top of a chocolate bonbon or mixed into an Italian meringue-based macaron, they offer a whole new flavor delivery system. R & D chef Robert Danhi finds that “using real fruit and vegetable powders unleashes a new range of possibilities. I don’t use them as a replacement for purees; instead, they enable new applications and flavor fortification in mixtures where the additional water from a puree is not desirable.” An expert in Southeast Asian cuisines, Danhi has even developed a Gochujang (Korean chile) powder that can take sweets to a new level of complexity and heat and uses it on a snack or garnish from caramelized cashews flavored with ginger and sesame seeds. He continues, “Using infrared technology, which takes minutes as opposed to hours to produce the powders, the resulting color, flavor and nutritional value remain intact and the microbial count is reduced to an insignificant number.”
These new fruit and vegetable powders are a big improvement from the fat-based powders that use tapioca maltodextrin. They pack a flavor punch with a little going a long way. Added to the dry ingredients in cake batters or laminated doughs, they can turn the delicate chiffon or sponge cake into more than a vehicle to sop up flavored syrup. In macarons, for examples, these powders can be added to the meringue shells so that they can sing the lead instead of the filling.
Tips for Using Fruit and Vegetable Powders
- Taste first for freshness to be sure that the powders have no off flavors and truly represent the fruit or vegetable that you intend to incorporate
- Use sparingly
- When dusting on completed dessert plates, use the finest mesh sieve you can find and tap lightly away from any currents of air in the pastry kitchen; the closer you are to the plate, the more likely the powder will land where you want it to be
- Combine compatible fruit powders for unique flavors, testing and tasting before you use, being aware of the color the combination yields
- Try the powders on frozen elements – sorbet, ice cream, gelato for an intriguing flavor addition
Danhi has one-upped the powders’ potential by combining them with other ingredients designed to be sprinklings for the tops of pastries and cakes. Ranging from pineapple-coconut and cranberry-pecan-pumpkin to a raspberry-hazelnut blend, Danhi has created a line of Global Flavor Shakers produced in partnership with Powder Pure, the developer of the infrared processing technique.
Pastry chef for Chicago’s Boka restaurant group, Meg Galus (Swift and Sons, Boka and Momotaro), often turns to the use of powders in her macarons and meringues. “I like to also use the powders on plates and in baked items where they pop both visually and flavor-wise, providing an element of intensity and surprise for the guest.” At each of the restaurants where Galus helms the dessert programs, she notes that adding unexpected notes of flavor to the sweets menu with the use of fruit powders takes the classics to a new level. At Boka, she presents a dessert called Mango and Citrus which features a satisfying blend of citrus and tropical flavors. Here she uses lighter-than-air freeze dried mandarins and crushes them for a fragrant garnish.
At Momotaro, the Boka’ group’s Japanese concept, she calls upon yuzu powder, a flavor appropriate to the Japanese pantry, to provide a dash of acidity for her seasonally driven desserts. “Here I don’t wish to fall into the ‘green tea crème brûlée trap.’ I’d rather offer desserts that fit well into the menu but go beyond the predictable.”
Chris Ford, executive pastry chef at the Beverly Wilshire (Beverly Hills, CA) shakes things up. He does not ignore the power of nostalgia and whimsy in his dessert. But he also creates twists on the tried and true, keeping simplicity in mind all the while. “I try to do what I haven’t seen before and am constantly inspired by shapes, buildings, colors and trends in fashion in planning and executing my desserts in the setting of a luxury hotel with an all day-part dining room, amenities for guests, room service and banquets.”
Taking his cues from the classical Paris-Brest, for instance, he combines a number of French elements—mousse, pâte de fruit, sablé dough and puff pastry—but gives them his own twist. For his Pretty&Pink dessert, he relies on freeze dried raspberry powder to heighten color and give that fruity tart flavor and aroma to the mousse and the glaze, both integral parts of a riff on a multi-textured old favorite.
Sacramento, CA-based pastry chef/chocolatier Ramon Perez, owner of Puur Chocolat, finds that freeze dried fruit and vegetable powders can play an important role in his confections and plated desserts. Zephyr Mousse features pea Croquant along with pickled green strawberries and yogurt ice cream. Corn in its freeze-dried form fits well into a marzipan-based bonbon which features a caramelized popcorn flavored ganache center. For another item, Perez takes an old favorite and transforms it into a couple of bites of cheesecake heaven. For this one, he confects a bonbon featuring multiple layers—cream cheese ganache, strawberry jelly, and a milk chocolate ground with graham cracker crumbs. Here strawberry powder flavors part of the white chocolate used for the shell, which is marbleized with white chocolate and is also found in the graham cracker layer used in the interior of the confection.
Isn’t it time that you explored the world of powders where less is definitely more? Easy to use, shelf stable if kept in a cool dark place in a container with a tight fitting lid and a few packets of silica gel, if used judiciously, powders can add a highly concentrated flavor boost to many desserts that are probably already on your menu but could use a bit of easy enhancement.
Powder Pure • www.powderpure.com
For a wide variety of infrared processed fruit and vegetable powders
Van Drunen Farms • www.vandrunenfarms.com
Offering a tremendous range of freeze dried powders and whole freeze dried fruits which can be crushed just before using, if desired
Global Flavor Shakers • www.globalflavorshakers.com
Produced by Robert Danhi For Sriracha flavored blends for use in sweet and savory dishes, snacks or as enhancements in many applications
Find 'Power Powders' recipes in the DessertProfessional.com Recipe section or click the links below.