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Desserts with savoury twist tease the taste buds

Savoury flavours in desserts are not a new fad. The Europeans traditionally serve a cheese course at the end of a meal.

Aged Parmesan with a good quality balsamic is delightful. Prosciutto- wrapped melon slices are often an appetizer but there is no reason they could not be a dessert.

The addition of savoury flavours eases us into letting go of sweetness.

Basil Olive Oil Cake

Most recipes tell you to dust the pan with flour after spraying it with oil. Flour leaves a dry, white coating on your cake. Instead, use a coarse raw sugar for a sweet and crunchy surface.

  • 3 c. all purpose flour 750 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. finely minced fresh basil 22 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar 375 mL
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. milk 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice 60 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 2 mL
  • 3 large eggs
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Coat a 10-inch (25 cm) tube pan with cooking spray. Dust with coarse raw sugar, shaking out excess.
In a large bowl, mix flour with basil, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a second large bowl, beat sugar with oil, milk, lemon juice, vanilla and eggs until well combined. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture until there are no lumps.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes before inverting on a cooling rack.
To serve, drizzle a little oil over a slice of cake and top with a fresh basil leaf.

Black Pepper and Balsamic Strawberries with Zabaglione

Use the best balsamic vinegar you have. Just a little drizzle goes a long way in kicking up the flavour of the strawberries.
Zabaglione is traditional Italian custard usually served warm with fresh fruit or a dense, moist cake. If black pepper doesn’t appeal to you, then use basil. Basil and strawberries are another classic pairing.
If you find that there is more zabaglione than you need, pop it into the freezer. It serves well as a frozen accompaniment to berries and cakes.


  • 2 c. fresh strawberries hulled and sliced 500 mL
  • 1 tsp. coarse raw sugar 5 mL
  • drizzle of aged balsamic
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • 2/3 c. Marsala, port or red or white dessert wine 150 mL
  • 1/3 c. sugar 75 mL
  • 6 large egg yolks

Toss strawberries, raw sugar, balsamic vinegar and a couple of turns of freshly ground black pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the zabaglione. In a large, metal bowl, whisk together the wine and sugar, then whisk in egg yolks.
Set bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water and whisk vigorously until the mixture becomes frothy and stiff.
You can slow down the speed, but if you need to stop whisking it, remove the bowl from the pan for as brief a time as possible.
The zabaglione is ready when the mixture is thick and holds its shape when you lift the whisk and let some of the mixture drop back into the bowl.
Pile the berries and their juices into a glass and top each with warm zabaglione.

Zabaglione with Caviar

Caviar is more accessible than it has ever been. Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. in New Brunswick ships across Canada. It is available online at Costco. Order about a week before you want to serve it.

  • see zabaglione recipe
  • 1 c. whipping cream 250 mL
  • 2 oz. wild sturgeon caviar 50 g

Make the zabaglione as directed above. Chill. Whip the cream until it is soft and fold into the zabaglione.
To serve, use a small dessert bowl or liquor glass and place a generous dollop of caviar on top of about 1/4 cup (60 mL) of zabaglione. Serves six.

Roquefort and Honey Ice Cream with Roasted Pears

  • 1/2 pear for each person
  • 6 tbsp. honey, plus more for drizzling 90 mL
  • 4 oz. Roquefort cheese 115 g
  • 1 c. whipping cream 250 mL
  • 1 c. whole milk 250 mL
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • a few turns of freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the pears, slice them in half and remove core. Brush the cut side with honey and roast at 350 F (180 C) for about 20 minutes or until tender. Make these just before serving and serve warm or at room temperature.
To make the ice cream, warm the honey in a small saucepan, then set aside. Crumble the Roquefort into a large bowl. Set a mesh strainer over it. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.
Scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.
Over medium heat, stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon.
Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cheese. Stir until most of the cheese is melted. Some small bits are fine and are nice in the finished ice cream. Stir in the cream and the honey and add a few turns of black pepper. Makes one quart (1 L) ice cream.
Chill custard thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
To assemble, drizzle the plate with a flavourful honey. Place half a pear and a scoop of ice cream on the plate. Garnish with pecans or walnuts, if desired. Source: Adapted from The Perfect Scoop.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:

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