Pumpkins and squashes are extremely versatile. In Hungarian language the butternut squash is called “baking squash” (sütőtök), because traditionally it is simply cut in slices and baked in the oven until nicely caramelized. The name is somehow misleading, because pumpkins and squashes can be also cooked, steamed, or even be eaten raw or marinated. By adding sugar or syrup they work really well in cakes or sweets too. Based on this sweet application I created a mini cake inspired by Dominosteine, a praline of German origin.
In autumn plums appear at the markets in various sizes, colors and shapes. For example the round ones are pretty close to nectarines, with the only visual difference that their skins are blue or pale yellow. The oval damsons are the most common here in Franconia, in most cases this is the plum you will find at all markets. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you might even spot some tiny greengages. Removing their seeds makes the most work among these three plums, but greengages also have a very nice wild, more natural taste. For this dessert I combined these three plum subspecies, all with interesting added flavorings.
Recently vegetables are becoming more and more popular as dessert ingredients. I don’t think it’s so unusual to use vegetables in desserts, because a lot of them are already pretty sweet on their own. Carrots, pumpkins or zucchinis became quite common as cake ingredients recently. Fennel for example can be applied in desserts too. The anise flavor has already been used for several hundred years as a spice for sweets. Combined with white wine, fennel makes a very nice sorbet, which can be paired perfectly with almond and peach, e.g. like with this delicious tart.
The final dish of my meatless menu for the 2011 ZEITmagazin cooking competition is a variation of strawberry. I usually make the cake using rhubarb instead of strawberry and yoghurt for the mousse, but unfortunately the rhubarb season was already over when the competition was held. Because Goji-berries are about the same size as raisins, I used them similarly by soaking them in rum and adding them afterwards to the sponge cake base. Already in the cake alone there are three variations of strawberry present: diced and orange liquer marinated strawberry pieces, a light strawberry-yoghurt mousse and a quarter of raw strawberry at the top.