You Should Start Adding Paprika To Desserts. Here's Why And How

Paprika may be the star of savory goulash, Romesco sauce, and deviled eggs, but the spice has more than just a savory purpose. Contrary to its most common uses, the seasoning can be used in a variety of sweet applications. Since paprika may be one of those ingredients that idly lingers in your spice cabinet, there's no better time than the present to take advantage of its richly nuanced flavor by incorporating it into your most beloved sweet treats.

First things first, what is paprika? Essentially, the crimson-colored spice is made by drying and pulverizing (usually sweet) red peppers. At its most basic, paprika tastes mild and mellow, boasting a sweetly faint peppery flavor. Depending on the variety, it can also possess fruity notes or hints of heat, as in the case of various Hungarian paprikas, or toasty traces of smoke, as with Spanish pimentón. Because it is riddled with flavor, it's only right that the spice be used to boost complexity in desserts. By giving sweets another dimension of depth, paprika can help round out overly saccharine flavors, all while contributing a pleasant pop of color.

Paprika can be sprinkled directly into cake batter and cookie dough, or used to improve recipes for custard, ganache, or frosting. Plus, it creates an impressive final touch when dusted over dainty macarons or used to coat cinnamon-y snickerdoodles. This brings us to the next big question, which ingredients pair best with paprika?

A definitive guide to using paprika in desserts

There are several ingredients that act as a good neutral base for paprika, the first being dairy. Given the multifaceted nature of paprika, the spice can make otherwise plain delights such as ice cream, panna cotta, or a buttery caramel sauce all the more interesting. Likewise, it's not a bad idea to pair chocolate and paprika. The decadently sweet yet bitter quality of chocolate makes it a great companion for the spice in anything from truffles to brownies to puddings and even bark. But, the paprika pairings don't stop there.

Based on its deeply varied profile, we suggest playing into paprika's most nuanced flavors. For instance, draw on the spice's fruitiness by adding a sweet-leaning paprika into a berry compote or mango coulis. Alternatively, a zestier paprika can find its place alongside allspice or clove in sugary peach cobbler or pumpkin pie filling. In contrast, smoked paprika makes a stellar match for roasted nuts, worked either into peanut butter cookies or a candied pecan topping.

Since any variety of paprika can be used to elevate desserts, don't shy away from flavor. Yet, while you have the green light to be creative, remember that paprika should be used sparingly — start with only ½ teaspoon. Paprika fans may want to add more, but it's best not to surpass more than a few teaspoons as this will throw off the dessert's equilibrium. All that's left to say is, happy experimenting!