Garam Masala Brings A Special Flavor Your Desserts Have Been Missing

Garam masala
Garam masala - Sgaphoto/Getty Images

Sweet-meets-savory-spice has emerged as something of a culinary phenomenon in the States. Consider, for instance, the "golden milk latte" — a simple combination of milk and a heavily spiced turmeric concentrate that has been taking coffee shops by storm. Savory cookies made from tahini and miso paste are no longer head-turners. The message foodies are sending here is clear: Savory spices work well in sweet desserts. Now, it's time to put garam masala to the test.

Not just for tikka masala and tandoori chicken, this reddish brown spice from Northern India just might be the dimensional ingredient your desserts have been crying out for. Store-bought is fine, but you can make your own homemade garam masala by toasting cardamom, black peppercorns, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and nutmeg, then pulverizing the mixture to combine. Ginger, bay leaf, fenugreek, and chili powder are sometimes tossed into the mix, too. Many home cooks in India have personal secret recipes for their garam masala ingredient ratios.

This one spice can make a big difference for your desserts. As you experiment, tread lightly; less is more, and this pungent spice will go a long way. Subsequently, make your garam masala spice blends in small batches, or if you're going store-bought, skip the bulk and purchase small jars at a time. This aromatic spice will lose its potency over time. As a jumping-off point, start with ¼ or ½ teaspoon per dessert and adjust to taste.

Read more: 12 Tips You Need When Cooking With Spices

Just A Garam Is All It Takes

Garam masala spiced cookies
Garam masala spiced cookies - Golfcuk/Getty Images

Garam masala means "warm spices" in Hindi, and this definition can act as a guideline as you brainstorm ideas for incorporating the ingredient into your desserts. You could add a pinch of garam masala to pie crust or snickerdoodle cookie dough, for starters. Slip a little into brown butter cookies or butterscotch blondies. For an autumnal dessert, you could sprinkle garam masala over roasted pears with brown sugar, or stir it into spiced Bundt cake batter. Garam masala would be delicious in an apple pie or pumpkin cobbler; it could even add spiced depth to this bright pineapple coconut poke cake.

Garam masala functions beautifully as a flavorful finishing garnish. In fact, the spice is traditionally added after cooking just before serving. For example, add a sprinkle to dress up plain cheesecake. Use this perhaps unlikely spice to balance out a shoofly pie or gooey monkey bread. Similarly, garam masala could round out the profile of almond croissants with a sweet-nutty filling. Try adding it to a salted caramel sauce, marzipan, or pistachio bars. For an Indian-meets-French confectionery creation, use garam masala in gougères or tarte tatin.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.