Hand lifting smoke-filled cloche

Simple Smoked Desserts You’ll Love

Virtually anything can be smoked like butter, ice cream, oil, and more. Desserts are no exception, however, there is a right and wrong way to infuse them with traces of soot and spice. Although the technique can give sweet treats an edge, there’s also a risk that smoke can steal the show. To ensure that hazy notes compliment and contrast a recipe as intended, subtlety is key.

Unlike hunks of brisket or racks of ribs that can spend hours in the smoker, the same can’t be said of sugary sweets. Proteins are usually larger, sturdier, and quite savory, giving them the ability to withstand the intensities of an incredibly long smoking span. In contrast, desserts are very delicate in their composition and flavor. As a result, they require a much gentler method of smoking to impart nuances of char without having them completely overpower. 

Luckily, there are ways to subtly smoke your goodies. Cold smoking at temperatures below 250 degrees Fahrenheit is a good place to start. Contrary to hot smoking where foods simultaneously cook and smoke, this cooler equivalent gives desserts a mild, barely-there smokiness. That said, while your treats can be cold smoked from upwards of 10 minutes to one hour, we recommend adhering to shorter timelines. Keeping the smoking process brief prevents the dessert’s flavors from being masked, leading to a more harmonious bite.

What to consider before smoking any dessert

dessert crumble on the grill

Although smoking at a lower temperature for less time will infuse the ideal amount of hazy complexity into desserts, hot smoking isn’t totally out of the question. Goodies that are destined for baking can still be smoked the traditional way if you keep an eye on time and temperature. In any case, both methods will only result in a successfully smoked dessert if the right wood chips are used.  

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Depending on the wood, chips can impart different flavors along with varying degrees of smokiness, which is why they must be chosen wisely. Generally, mellow woods like maple or alder bring a sweet peatiness to any dessert. Likewise, cherry and apple wood function the same, especially enhancing items like a classic peach cobbler or pie. While bold hickory or mesquite should usually be avoided, they can meet their match with equally intense desserts that are laden with bitter coffee, dark chocolate, or toasted nuts. Otherwise, mixing chips can provide balance and depth.

As for which recipes benefit from being smoked, pretty much anything goes. Fruit kebabs, cookies, puddings, and even sauces like chocolate ganache can be smoked for a deeper flavor. However, some treats like cheesecakes or ice cream can occasionally absorb an unpleasant amount of sootiness. The solution? Use this technique on a single ingredient as opposed to the entire dessert for a faintly smoky richness. 

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Our Experts

Look's editorial team comprises seasoned writers and editors who specialize in the food and drink, hospitality, and agriculture sectors. We also collaborate with external experts to ensure the delivery of accurate, current information and unique recipes.

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