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Sweet Gone Savory

Give your sweet tooth a break with these switched-up dishes that sing with savory flavors.  

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Photo: Heidi Geldhauser

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Move over, sugar, ‘cause it’s about to get salty. Chefs across the country are proving not every treat needs to be sweet. They’re turning out switched-up takes on the classics — cobblers, macarons and more — that will have even the most diehard sugar junkies joining the savory side. 

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Photo: Green Olive Media

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Beignets

At C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar in Atlanta, ordering a selection of oysters while mulling over the daily fish specials is a given. But diners in the know also opt for Chef Jon Schwenk’s seafood beignets to kick off their meal. The concept for this not-so-standard beignet came to Schwenk while he was sampling crab fritters during a trip to the Big Easy. Once he returned home, he couldn’t rest until he turned his idea into reality. “I began working on different recipes… and wound up with a hybrid tempura/beer batter that was crispy on the outside, but was slightly doughy in consistency like a beignet,” Schwenk says. For the filling, he softens goat cheese and mixes it with shrimp, then rolls the mixture into balls and chills them until firm. Once they’re ready, Schwenk dunks them in batter and fries them. The result is a crisp, golden shell that gives way to a center of molten cheese. The savory treats are served with a side of bright tomato compote for dipping.

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Photo: Evan Sung

Carrot Crepe

Chef Greg Baxtrom transforms a beloved French street food into a sophisticated savory appetizer at airy Brooklyn restaurant Olmsted. For his version of a crepe, Baxtrom punches up the batter with freshly squeezed carrot juice in lieu of milk, then pairs the creation with surf clams. “Many of our dishes start with the vegetable first, and the sweetness of the carrots [works] well with the brininess of the clams,” Baxtrom says. Even the presentation is unconventional. After the briny bivalves are sauteed with carrots in butter, the crepe is elegantly draped on top, then topped with thinly shaved carrots and pea shoots, as well as sunflower seeds and petals — to Instagram-worthy effect.

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Photo: Heidi Geldhauser

Pimento Cheese Macarons

At Atlanta fine-dining favorite Restaurant Eugene, Chef Linton Hopkins starts diners out with a treat typically saved for dessert. “I love the chewy crunch of macarons but wanted to have that sensation at the beginning of the meal rather than after,” Hopkins says. To make the delicate sandwich cookie savory, he adds a healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper to the batter. Hopkins also gives the French confection a decidedly Southern tweak by piping in pimento cheese for the filling. “The piquancy of the pepper reigns in the sweetness to allow the creamy pimento cheese to come through,” Hopkins adds. “Of course, it had to be the pimento cheese my wife and I first started making together after we met!”

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