A good baker knows that the best desserts require a bit of salt. And, increasingly, pepper is becoming a critical part of the pastry repertoire.
Specifically, pastry chefs are turning to long pepper ($11 for 2 jars; buy here), a stalwart in cuisines of Southeast Asia. Long pepper has a fiery spice, but a sweet overtone--a natural pairing for end-of-meal dishes.
At Bondir in Cambridge, chef Jason Bond adds long pepper to a caramel that is drizzled over a crostata filled with in-season fruit (see the recipe). The caramel is deepened with molten high notes, but is versatile enough to complement a rotating cast of fruit. Currently, we're making the dish with the season's first pears.
Long pepper is equally versed in other pages from the pastry playbook, including chocolate and custard. You can find it garnishing a chocolate pudding at San Francisco's State Bird Provisions and topping an orange crème brûlée at nearby Fifth Floor.
Our advice? Don't clear those salt and pepper shakers before the dessert course.