Savoury desserts in South America

While the end of the meal has traditionally been about indulgence, chefs are experimenting with finishing a meal on less of a sweet note by adding everything from vegetables to fish flakes.

21 October 2019
chefsdessertLatin AmericanNPDvegetables

Tegui

This fine dining restaurant in Buenos Aires, has put contemporary Argentine cuisine on the map, according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, as it debuted at No.49 on this year’s list.

Chef Germán Martitegui honed his skills in France, the US and Argentina and takes pride in using local produce. He was chosen by his peers to win The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Chef’s Choice Award. Martitegui also co-hosts Argentina’s edition of MasterChef, where he is known as the ‘mean guy’.

In the early days, he worked with Argentine culinary legends, including pastry chef Beatriz Chomnalez and fire-starting king Francis Mallmann.

Chomnalez has been heralded as a mentor to Martitegui. “She was my first teacher and no one else would have had that effect on me at that time. If Beatriz had been giving bonsai classes, I’d be caring for tiny trees today. She marked my career,” he said. Mallman has also had an influence as he worked with him on the likes of 10 course tasting menus that consisted of different potato varieties from the starter to two desserts.

These experiences have played out with the addition of a white chocolate and cauliflower alfajor, which has been added to the restaurant’s dessert offering. Traditionally, these melt-in-the-mouth shortbread-like cookies originate from South America and are filled with dulce de leche and rolled in desiccated coconut. But Martitegui has taken the dessert into savoury territory with the humble yet trendy ingredient cauliflower.

Niño Gordo 

An Asian steakhouse that mixes flavors from the East together with Buenos Aires food, taking inspiration from Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Chef Federico Nudelman hasn’t been shy about sticking the savoury into sweet endings at the restaurant. 

The choco first featured on the menu – it’s a ball of dark chocolate with wasabi and togarashi (a Japanese chilli spice), which gives a kick of heat and sweet at the same time.

Things have gotten even fishier with the introduction to the menu of white chocolate mousse topped with katsuobushi (bonito fish flakes).

Nuema

Another South American fine dining restaurant with a tasting menu that focuses on Ecuadorian food. It’s based in Quito and run by chef Alejandro Chamorro, who has worked at Noma in Copenhagen and with the renowned Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio at the Astrid y Gaston Restaurant in Lima.

Nuema cuisine uses a ‘rule of three’ for its dishes. It means that every dish only has three flavors, ingredients and textures.

Pastry chef Pía Chamorro plays with savoury elements in her desserts, mixing up vegetables with fruits as well as textures. Her radish and artichoke dessert has a raspberry granita, like a sorbet, and artichoke base, and it's topped with slivers of radish that have been soaked with azahares (white blossom picked from citrus trees), confit and laminated artichoke hearts. There’s also a radish gel for additional flavour.

Ajo Negro

A refined tapas bar in Buenos Aires, they have already done the sweet into savoury with the likes of

shrimp churros with seaweed mayonnaise, so it’s no surprise that they have also made the swap when it comes to desserts.

One such invention has been transforming the Caprese salad into a sweet version, dishing up a dessert of sweet tomatoes, homemade ricotta and basil syrup.

There’s also the avocado parfait. It uses yolks, milk and cream as its base, as well as sugar, olive oil and grated lime. 

The chef beats the yolks and sugar until the volume doubles then heat up the milk and mix it in. Once it's all mixed, apply a bain marie and beat it until the texture becomes firm, strain and let it cool. Once chilled, add in the avocado puré, grated lime  and already whipped cream, folding it all in but without removing air from the mixture. Place in a mould and freeze for at least six hours, then cut into pieces.

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