Dessert Herbs for Spring
Written by guest blogger, Christiane Carter, Marketing Support Specialist, PreGel America, just in time for spring!
It’s not unheard of for culinary artists to branch out and try new, adventurous ingredients when they create show-stopping recipes. Nowadays, the race to discover new herbs and their culinary uses is trending, and I’ve listed a few uncommon herbs for you to try in your next gelato recipe below.
Perilla Frutescens, more famously known as Green Shiso, is an herb with two other famous siblings (Red Shiso and Korean Shiso) and is indigenous to the Asian continent. Green Shiso is best known as an accompaniment to classic Japanese sashimi, as it has a sterilizing property and a flavor that pairs well with fresh fish.
It packs a subtle peppery punch similar to mint with a complex undertone of crisp apple. Try muddling a few bright green leaves with raw sugar, and sprinkle it atop your finest creamy coconut gelato to add a lively menthol kick to an otherwise overlooked classic flavor.
Other than its zesty bite and slightly minty flavor, one of the most interesting things about lemon balm is that it’s common for beekeepers to plant them in strategic areas in their gardens close to their bee colonies in order to attract more bees and boost honey production. That’s why its genus name is Melissa Officinalis – “Melissa” is Greek for “Honey Bee”.
How fascinating… and inspiring! Try infusing the lemon balm in honey to drizzle or fold into a creamy Fior di Latte Gelato and dust it with crunchy pistachio pieces to experience the purest form of flavor. You can also add muddled leaves to your strawberry sorbet before you spin it to give the berries a more intense flavor with a refreshing after affect.
Viola Odorata, otherwise known as Sweet Violets, are better known for the bejeweling qualities they provide to classic English gardens, but their floral and slightly sweet flavor is becoming popular in restaurants and pastry shops around the world. Most chefs add the flowers to spring salads paired with a drizzle of citrus-y vinaigrette, and pastry chefs like to coat them in sugar before decorating cupcakes, petit gateaux, and eclairs. Coating violet blossoms in sugar not only intensifies the flavor, but they prolong the beautiful features of the bloom.
PreGel featured this flavor at the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago paired with yogurt gelato to make a delicious duo. The pan was a swirl of fragrant sweetness and creamy tartness that was a pleasant interruption to the traditional and classic flavors that were available for the thousands of attendees that attended the trade show.
Sambucus Nigra is the genus name of the elegant and fragrant Elderflower and is the blossom that proceeds the berries (elderberries) on the elder tree. Elderflowers have been used for centuries as a remedy for respiratory sickness and achy joints. It has also been discovered to act like insulin and lower blood sugar, which is perfect for anyone who has a problem overindulging in desserts, like me.
The blooms and the berries have very distinct and similar flavors. While the berries are juicy, tart, and sweet, the sprigs carry a heady Muscat grape fragrance and pairs beautifully with tart fruits like rhubarb, raspberries, and even granny smith apples. While more commonly used with pastries, you can still experiment with these bunches in your sorbetto flavors. Whip up an elderflower simple syrup that you can add to a Prosecco and Pear Sorbet. Or you can make a refreshing sorbet by pairing it with cucumber and gin.