Chefs Culinary Corner

Our team of skilled chefs shares their inspirations and tips for creating menu success.

Ingredient Insider

Constantly coming up with the next big idea is no easy task. That’s why Chef Patty looks to all places—and all ingredients— for inspiration. From finding new flavors to pioneering new ways to use classics, Chef Patty is sharing the inside story on how ingredients help to shape her greatest, and most exciting, creations.

1. How do you develop recipes using ingredients in unexpected ways?

I combine my experience from what I enjoy eating and a multitude of flavor preferences in ways that I hope will create something new and different—sometimes having a dramatic effect and sometimes just slightly swaying from the original concept. For example, I have a good friend who loves carrot cake. For his birthday, rather than bake the typical carrot cake, I molded a thin sheet of carrot cake into a long tube mold. I then filled it with caramelized pineapple jam infused with vanilla bean and star anise and a mousse made with white chocolate and cream cheese. I garnished the cake with crispy pineapple chips. Not fancy but different.

2. How have ingredients surprised you when you tried them in a new recipe?

Sometimes you find that a new ingredient in your pantry goes particularly well where you didn’t expect and doesn’t work in something you were sure it would shine in.

One of my favorite new recipes we’re working on for 2019 is the RITZ Pimento Cheese Dip with a RITZ Fried Pickle. I’m seeing pimento cheese dips a lot, it seems to be on trend.

In our version, we use some of the juice from the pickles and ground RITZ Crackers. The buttery, salty and sweet flavors from RITZ balance the acidity from the pickle really well.

3. Have you ever been surprised by a flavor pairing that didn’t come out as planned?

While playing around with ingredients, I’ve done a ton of stuff that hasn’t worked out. Some things just take more trials.

I once made a biscotti with OREO Cookie that I thought would be super easy. It was not easy at all. It didn’t deliver on the brand equity that I wanted. I did a plain biscotti with just vanilla. Biscotti can be hard to work with and it just wasn’t letting the OREO Cookie flavor shine the way I expected it to. When that happens, I’ll keep trying and modifying things until I am happy with the result.

When I was developing OREO Cookie Butter and OREO Cookie Dough, I had to do 15 iterations of each. For food safety reasons, I wanted it edible out of the refrigerator and not too hard. I wanted the right texture for each of them, so I had to play around with them a lot.

4. What ingredient attributes do you try to highlight when creating recipes?

In general, you want to highlight the attributes of each product that make the consumer fall in love with it. And that could be different for each person, but there are still those steadfast attributes that everybody is going to notice. For example, OREO Cookies have deep dark notes of cocoa, and we want to make sure it has the vanilla creme flavor. We also want to look at the textural attributes.

I’m only satisfied when it not only tastes great, but it achieves exactly what I want from the ingredients. It’s a fight I fight every day to determine how much OREO Cookie I put in my recipes to make sure the brand equity comes through.

When you make a dessert with OREO Cookies, you want your customer to see it, because that will help sell it. And then of course it has to taste like it. Our Edible Cookie Dough made with OREO Cookies, for example, looks like an OREO Cookie. Just seeing it makes you want to take a bite of it. It looks like ice cream but it’s cookie dough and it’s intriguing.

For RITZ Crackers, there are a lot of attributes that you want to capture when you’re using it. You can’t do something that tastes like RITZ without the texture of a RITZ Cracker. You want it to be flaky; it’s a softer crumb. When you eat RITZ they just dissolve in your mouth. It’s not a crunchy crispy, but more of a soft crispy, for lack of a better term. It’s buttery and salty with a slight undertone of sweetness. And if you left that sweetness out, you’d be missing something. The color is not too dark—like a deep-fried item—but it’s not too white either. It’s somewhere in the middle. Visually you have to look for the color and texture—a softer, not overwhelmingly crunchy bite.

5. What are examples of ingredients that have multiple applications in different recipes (for example, sweet and savory)?

A lot of times you want to play off opposites: hot and cold, salty and sweet. I worked on a recipe for Mondelēz International that incorporated NUTTER BUTTER variegate with a savory, spicy noodle dish. You might not think to add it to a savory pasta but the Spicy Peanut Dressed Pasta with NUTTER BUTTER Variegate has a nice balance of sweet and heat. So in this case, you’re playing off of the sweetness of the cookie, the savory of the peanut butter and soy sauce, and the spice of the chili sauce. This recipe is a good balance of sweet, salty, spicy and acidity.

OREO Cookie can be used in multiple applications as well—both sweet and savory dishes. I created Ribs with a BBQ Sauce made with OREO Basecake. A lot of BBQ sauces have sweetness added to them, it balances well with the fattiness of the pork for ribs. You get nice savory notes from the pork and you have the acidity of the BBQ sauce. The sweetness takes it down and softens the flavor a little bit—the cocoa from the OREO Basecake mellows it.

6. How do you develop unique concepts and recipes using Mondelēz products?

No matter where I go, if I see an ingredient somewhere it can make me think of something completely different. It could be a publication, it could be when I’m dining out. It could even be ideation sessions with other chefs. Or sometimes trial and error. There is no one way.

But no matter what, my brain immediately jumps to “how can I use this?” How can I reinvent this using one of my brands? Which Mondelēz products would it pair best with? What other ingredients will highlight the flavors? I’m always tuned into how I can take it to the next level with a Mondelēz International product.

7. What are some tips for other chefs or restaurant operators looking to develop new recipes that transform ingredients?

Look at trends but most importantly look at what your customers have been buying from you year after year. Maybe you have something as simple as an apple pie on your menu, but people come there for that pie. How can you repurpose ingredients that you already have? Why not turn that apple pie into a shake or different type of dessert? Make an ultimate milkshake and throw some GOLDEN OREO Cookies in there. You’re selling a branded item, so you’re hopefully going to get more consumer interest because you’ve elaborated on this apple pie and you’ve added a brand with which people are familiar.

8. What do you think about when garnishing desserts? How do you think of what garnish to use when plating a dessert?

Personally, I like to have the item that I’m making steal the show, so I want to use a garnish that doesn’t take away from that. When I think of garnishes for dessert, I’m thinking of something that adds to it or that is associated with the dessert in some way.

If you’re going to make an tiramisu with OREO Cookies, maybe you could do an OREO Cookie Tuile? So you’re still using OREO Cookie but you’re adding a crispy garnish to it. And that’s a whole different element. If your dessert is going to be creamy, like a tiramisu, I’d want to add a crispy component. You want to bring balance to the dessert with garnishes where the balance may be lacking.

Sometimes you want to bring color to your dessert, but it isn’t always necessary. I’ve never put color on just to have color. I wouldn’t throw a strawberry on the plate just because the dessert is brown.

9. Why is it important for restaurants to think about how food is presented, and not just the food itself? How does it help connect them to a younger audience?

The younger audience is intrigued when something is unique—when you can take a classic dish and put a new spin on it.

Social media sharing is either: “it tastes so good, I want to share it” or “it looks so good, I want to share it.” It’s not always easy to make it look like a ultimate shake but you can make it taste good and really get the customer to try it. So you have to find balance of flavor and visual appeal if you want something to go viral.

The visual aspect shouldn’t, in my opinion, be the focus, but I understand that it often is. With that said, research new ways to serve your items. This will hopefully give you inspiration on how to change the item itself to fit into new service ware or packaging. Think about how can you take what is currently on trend and add it to your dessert in a new, smart way that doesn’t feel like you are just jumping on a trend.

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