The Case For Adding Black Pepper To Cake Frosting

Move over salted caramel, it's time to let chocolate peppercorn bask in the spotlight. If you crave salty yet sweet caramel, you may also enjoy other unexpected ingredients in your baked goods. For example, ground peppercorns add a surprising hint of spice. Before you say no, consider whether you were one of those people who once hesitated to add sea salt to toffee.

In Iceland and other Nordic nations, pepper cookies flavored with dessert spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ground black peppercorn are a well-loved treat. In fact, when experimenting with using black pepper to make sweet dishes more interesting, try starting with treats that already contain hints of other warm spices like chai blend, pumpkin pie spice, or ginger.

Using black pepper to spice up desserts has ancient roots, as the Romans used to satisfy their collective sweet tooth by poaching pears in white wine, honey, black pepper, and other decadent ingredients. According to the University of Pennsylvania, ancient Romans also seasoned candied dates with ground pepper.

Even though we aren't in Rome, we can still do what the Romans did. Pepper complements fruit well. Always on-trend, ice cream purveyors Salt and Straw include strawberry balsamic vinegar with black pepper among their distinct flavors. If you've ever braved a line that winds around several Portland city blocks, you know the ice cream makers at Salt and Straw understand how to curate pleasantly unusual flavors. And if it works in ice cream, why not cake frosting?

Add heat to your sweets

Although you probably already have peppercorns in your spice collection, adding this ubiquitous ingredient to cake frosting and icing adds an unexpected pop. Pepper also adds another visual element, especially if you experiment with white, pink, or black peppercorns.

Rich bourbon vanilla, strawberry basil, or even dark chocolate buttercream frosting are among the flavors that are complemented by earthy spiciness. Like salt, you don't need to add much pepper to enhance your frosting. Just try a dash or two to get started.

Food bloggers like Darling Down South feature pepper in cream cheese frosting atop carrot cake. It isn't just popular in the blogosphere, either. Mainstream publications like Martha Stewart and the New York Times have featured recipes for devil's food chocolate cake with chocolate and peppercorn frosting.

The easiest way to add heat to your sweets is by simply sprinkling a micro-dose of black pepper on your cupcakes or other desserts, especially those with fruit, chocolate, spicy, or rich vanilla flavors.