The Flavor Your Summer Desserts Have Been Missing
If you aren't using the tart-sweet flavor of tamarind, it's time to introduce it to your cooking.
You may already be acquainted with tamarind. After all, the tangy-sweet fruit is an integral part of many Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes. In the United States, you're mostly likely to run into tamarind in the form of tamarind paste, which you can find at grocery stores like Whole Foods. Tamarind paste is in more things than you might think. It's an essential ingredient in Worchestershire sauce and Pad Thai, for example. It's a flavor that goes well with everything from baby back ribs to sweet potatoes, but you may not have considered how much it can do for your summer desserts, too.
Tamarind adds a depth and warmth to sweets. Think of something like a lemon crossed with a date, making it a great match for the fruit that's coming into season this time of year. In this Tamarind Peach Cobbler, tangy tamarind paste gets folded into the brown sugar mixture that coats fresh sliced peaches and apricots before the whole thing is topped with pie crust. It's a good jumping-off point to start experimenting with the flavor in the other things you make regularly—throw a dollop of tamarind paste into your next cobbler or crisp and see how it works with whatever fruit you're showcasing.
Another way to incorporate tamarind paste into your summer desserts is in popsicles. The paste is easy to squeeze into the mixture that you're preparing before you pour it into molds. Take these Strawberry Tamarind Popsicles, for example. Fresh strawberries come together with tamarind, mint, sugar, and just a little bit of salt for a refreshing summer fruit-based treat.
Tamarind also makes for a delicious drink, as in the Mexican soda Jarritos Tamarindo. You can make your own tamarind drink at home with sugar, lime, and tamarind pulp—it tastes a little bit like tamarind lemonade. So if tamarind isn't already a part of your dessert repertoire, try it out. You won't be sorry.