Here she is, the Queen of Sweets at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, and what is she grooving on?
“I’m craving salty, cheesy, meaty smoked stuff.”
Hedy Goldsmith is talking by phone from Austin, Texas. “I’m eating the most amazing thing,” she says, talking around the munches — “a Frito chili pie, layered with Fritos, amazing smoked brisket, barbecue sauce and melted goat cheese.”
Sweet and salt — together — make up the palate-perking tension that plays a big role in Goldsmith’s first cookbook, Baking Out Loud , due out on Tuesday from Clarkson Potter.
She’s not talking about that pinch of salt you add to the dough when you’re baking an apple pie. Goldsmith is adding salt that asserts itself, enhancing, not fighting with, the sweet bits.
“I don’t know if the palate loves it when you’re eating a dessert that’s overly sweet,” Goldsmith says. “Where every note of it is sugar upon sugar. The palate doesn’t have a chance to recover.
“Salt has a hidden nuance of black cherry if it’s hiding behind something else.”
Not every treat in the cookbook is sweet-salty — and not all of them are baked: tangerine Campari sorbet and lemon ricotta pancakes, for instance, chocolate bourbon sorbet and basil panna cotta topped with a little pour of strawberry consommé.
What really binds so many of Goldsmith’s creations together are taste memories that just about anyone around age 55 can instantly summon: S’mores, peanut brittle, marshmallows, lemon meringue pie, Oreos, cinnamon buns, fortune cookies, buttered popcorn from the movie theater. Goldsmith provides the recipes for all of these — made her way. Scratch a baby boomer and she might bleed Strawberry Quik.
And sometimes, salt is the added flavor booster. Goldsmith, a James Beard Award finalist who has hosted the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets, presents her sous chef Amy Kalinowski’s version of Snickers: a smooth center of amber caramel and salted peanuts sandwiched between two thin layers of chocolate. The caramel also takes a teaspoon of kosher salt. Goldsmith’s peanut brittle has a healthy sprinkle of fleur de sel.
Sometimes salt has a delivery system: There’s buttered-popcorn gelato and bacon maple pecan ice cream. Goldmith’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cookies — “Junk in da Trunk” — pack in morsels of butterscotch, malted milk balls — and potato chips and pretzels.
Her cookbook’s subtitle is Fun Desserts with Big Flavors. Big flavors, but not fussy or overdone.
That wasn’t always Goldsmith’s style. Before she began her collaboration with Michael Schwartz, the Beard Award-winning chef behind Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami’s Design District, Goldsmith was pastry chef at the late, great Mark’s Place in North Miami. Her desserts there were serious, capital S.
“My desserts had 16 elements — a chocolate tart with black cherries and paired with goat cheese ice cream and 17 flavors that built on each other,” Goldsmith says, exaggerating. “But there was no one flavor that stood out. They were thoughtful and well-executed, but there were so many elements. I would think: ‘What else can I put on that plate?’ ”