BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Salty, Sweet, and Savory

31 Comments

Having made great strides in beating down long-held food prejudices, I take in no shame to confess that there are still some areas in need of work. Coming from the girl who once abhorred vegetables indiscriminately and considered instant ramen to be the staff of life, the acceptance of beets as edible substance, and even a quite delicious one at that, strikes me as great progress all by itself. However, put cilantro in my food or even sprinkle it on top as a garnish, and I’ll run for the hills. Pizza with pineapple on top? No, thank you, and don’t invite me out to dinner again! Possibly worst of all though, is the crime of mixing dried fruit into savory dishes. I know, it’s traditional in many cultures and when applied correctly, doesn’t even lend an overt sweetness, but I still gag quietly at the thought of plopping bulbous orange apricots into an otherwise lusciously rich and flavorful stew. Just leave the raisins and prunes for making granola, please!

After so many years of holding this bias dear, the time has come to challenge that whole concept. Browsing idly through Trader Joe’s one recent afternoon, I spied a new box of intriguing crackers on the shelf. Looking more like miniature slices of toasted multigrain bread than any flat cracker I had ever seen, the promise of all those textures and flavors got my attention. Here’s the kicker though: They included, of all things, raisins. Considering the herbaceous addition of rosemary, I couldn’t help but cringe momentarily. Practically flinging the offending box back on the shelf since the questionable snacks weren’t vegan in the first place, I high-tailed it out of there before anyone could ask about my overt expression of horror.

But the concept stuck with me, like a wet leaf, and followed me back home, straight into the kitchen. The nuts, seeds, rosemary, and raisins… Something about the motley crew had a slight ring to it, a latent harmony waiting to be heard. Why not give it a DIY try? Plus, this way, I could do damage control and throw in my favorite ingredients, to make it as appealing as possible. Out with the raisins and in with some dates, my favorite of all dried fruits, gave me added hope for these unusual crisps. Plus, the additions of green olives for some tangy, salty flavor got my imagination churning with excitement.

The verdict? Addictive beyond my wildest dreams. Crunchy but pleasantly chewy thanks to those moist medjool dates, every bite is a symphony of salty, sweet, and savory. Complex and full-flavored, they can easily stand alone with confidence, but are even better paired with a creamy spread, such as Melomeal’s goaty cashew cheese. Loosened to a soft consistency with a splash of water, this pungent spread rounded out a simple snack with ease and grace. Want to impress friends and family? These crackers, with or without spread, are just begging to be served at a party, and paired with a nice glass of wine.

A highly successful experiment, I’m downright baffled by how delicious the end results were, considering the controversial content. A convert to the way of savory dried fruits, however? Well, I wouldn’t immediately reject such a sweet and savory combination, but I might still carefully pick around the dried fruits included in a full main dish. Baby steps, right?

Sweet and Savory Rosemary Crisps
Adapted from Dinner with Julie

1 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar, Packed
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Chopped Dates
1/4 Cup Toasted, Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
1/4 Cup Toasted, Unsalted Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
1/4 Cup Green Olives with Pimento, Roughly Chopped
2 Tablespoons Whole Flaxseed, Ground
1 1/2 Teaspoons Dried Rosemary Leaves, Ground
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Pinch Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.

First things first, mix together your non-dairy milk of choice, vinegar, sugar, and maple syrup. Let sit for at least 5 minutes for the “milk” to curdle. Meanwhile, combine everything else that follows in a large bowl, making sure that all of the ingredients are well distributed throughout the mixture, and that the dates and olives are thoroughly coated in flour. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry, and stir with a wide spatula, just until the batter is fully moistened and free of dry, floury pockets. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan, and bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then turn the loaf out onto a wire rack.

The cooler the loaf, the thinner and cleaner your slices will come out, so try to let it rest until completely cool. You may choose to let it sit overnight and resume baking in the morning, or you can speed up the process by tossing the loaf into the freezer briefly.

When you’re ready to bake the crisps, preheat or reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and slice the baked and cooled loaf into very thin slices with a serrated knife; Approximately 1/4 – 1/2 cm thickness. Lay them out on an ungreased sheet pan lined with aluminum foil (for easier clean up) and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the crackers over, and bake for a final 15 – 20 minutes, until golden all over. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly crunchy straight out of the oven, because they will continue to crisp up as they cool. Once cooled to room temperature, they can be stored in an air-tight container in a cool place for up to a week. If they last that long, that is.

Makes About 3 Dozen Crackers

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

31 thoughts on “Salty, Sweet, and Savory

  1. Love the savory recipe! Definitely looks addictive :)

  2. That sounds so good! I’m glad you made the goaty cheese! I’ll bet it was really good with the bread.

    I love sweet and savory together.. dates and green olives.. wow! I have to make this.

  3. I do not share your aversion to savory+sweet and this looks AMAZING. I love how you combined it with goat cheese, and I just happen to have bought some yesterday. This looks like a really nice recipe to try! Thanks!
    Rivki @ Healthy Eating for Ordinary People

  4. I am so with you! I could never ever eat pizza with pineapple and I cannot be friends with the sweet and savoury combination. But your crackers look a lot like my favourite fruit bread. Except for olives and rosemary, of course.

  5. Such lovely crackers! Sweet and savory,like that!

  6. I so agree with your dislike of the sweet-savory combo. When it comes to dinner I’m a savory girl all the way. Sometimes I’m confronted with f.i. a couscous with raisins in it or a curry with some type of fruit at either a friend’s house or a restaurant. I tend to politely start eating it, not minding the first few bites, but long before the end of the dish is in sight, I will start to resent the sweet overkill. Such a waste of an otherwise perfectly nice dinner :(
    However there is one success-combo that I strangely enough do enjoy (loads): dates with creamcheese! In the past the dairy kind, but since going vegan, Tofutti is a great alternative. Your recipe seems to be following the same principle, so I’m defenitely going to try it. Not to get rid of my sweet-savory bias (I like it and am sticking with it ;)), but just because it sounds really really tasty!

  7. Sometimes the craziest sounding combos are the absolute best!

  8. MMMMMMMMMMMMM,..;this bread looks fabulous!! So tasty & versatile too!

    That spread calls my name too! A yummie & lovely combo!

    I recently moved my blog to wordpress.com/ Come over @ my blog & check it out! You must update your RSS too!

  9. What an interesting sweet & savory, crisp & chewy combo–sounds perfect for afternoon snacking!

  10. Did you know there’s a gene that determines if you find cilantro to taste edible or not? I’m not sure there’s a gene for mixing dried fruit with savory though, hah. I like the combination, and these crisps sound stellar. They look like they have so much wonderful texture! Yum.

  11. I think we all have our food tics. If it makes you feel any better, mine is celery anywhere in anything in any shape or form. I won’t come near it with a ten foot pole. Sometimes i even ask them to move it out of my line of vision when I walk into Trader Joe’s.

    Loving your rendition of these crackers. I bet they were way better than TJ’s anyway!

  12. Wow this looks great! I love the combination of sweet and salty, the green olives and dates intrigue me. I’m saving this one.

  13. *claps* Hannah, these look magnificent! I’ve just recently come to accept fruits in savoury dishes too. It’s been a long path – I initially took up cooking as a teen so that I wouldn’t have to eat mum’s lamb and prune casserole ever again….

  14. I’m a big fan of sweet & savory, this sounds good. My husband also hates cilantro. I blame it on the one time I made Gazpacho…and filled the fridge with pitchers of it. To think back, I didn’t like the soup either…

  15. Thank you! These are in the oven RIGHT NOW…should I send a picture?

  16. That looks like an amazing snack! YOU hated veggies?? Funny. My husband can only make instant ramen.

  17. What a cool idea for crackers! Like you, I abhor cilantro, and I thought it was just me, but I’ve never cared for dried fruit in savory dishes, especially raisins. I’m not a huge fan of raisins anyway. But adding dates to a savory dish? What an intriguing idea! I’ll have to try it some time, sounds way better than raisins.

  18. I have my own food prejudices, interestingly enough I posted about them yesterday. I’m still always attempting to work through them but I can get lazy about it when there are so many foods and food combos I do like to choose from.

  19. interesting combination of ingredients, but something about it makes me want to try it out! i love when i see something and get inspired to recreate it at home.

  20. I seem to be liking the food you dislike (or used to dislike). Cilantro, Hawaiian pizza etc. I will take your crisps anytime but without the olives :p

  21. You are such a great writer, Hannah…and I’m completely sold on this! I bet the flavors really do work magically. I’m with you on the cilantro though, lol!

  22. What a fascinating combination of flavours, this sounds amazing!
    *kisses* HH

  23. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! LOVE!!!!!

    I want to eat these all right now!

    I’m drooling.

    xo

  24. Ooh, they sound really nice!

  25. I was totally behind you in giving these the chance… but then I saw the olives (which make me go running from a room) hehe… maybe without the olives though… :D

  26. P.S. They turned out amazing and delicious…smeared with homemade spinach hummus and sliced olives. YUM!

  27. Funny, as abhorred as you are by the raisins, I am abhorred by green olives! The bread does look really nice though.

  28. Ramen used to be my lifesaver, as well – I hated any and all vegetables unless it was a french fry ;) However – I absolutely LOVE when sweet meets savory. That means I love dried fruits in savory dishes :P These crackers look to be a wonderful rendition of a combination of great flavors!

  29. “stuck with me, like a wet leaf”! I love it! Come to think of it, lots of your recipes have done that to me, though I don’t often post comments. I have long appreciated your writing skills as well as your cooking skills. You do a great job of “selling” your recipes.

  30. I forgot about these crisps! I saved the recipe so long ago and never made them. I looove that you added olives. I’m a bit wary of dried fruit in savoury dishes too but am starting to come around to the idea.

  31. Ha! I used to be a cilantro hater, well into adulthood that was the one herb that I really couldn’t stand. But it changed, not sure how, and now I like it! So you never know. Nice to know how to make the crisps, I’ve been trying a few kinds from our coop, things like sliced almond and dried cherry ones (I’m fine with dried fruit in savory recipes).

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