The line between sweet and savory often is blurred at Tandem Coffee + Bakery in Portland, Maine, where savory cheddar-kale scones are studded with sweet-tart currants and blueberry-cornmeal cake is spiked with salty ricotta.
So, naturally, owner Briana Holt wouldn’t be satisfied with a conventional chocolate cake. Instead, hers comes flecked with ground toasted juniper berries and soaked with a honey syrup infused with fresh juniper— two layers of piney aroma that pairs surprisingly well with chocolate.
Soaking the cake with an infused syrup keeps it moist, but the juniper adds that unexpected twist that has become Holt’s hallmark. “I find it to be an underused and underloved ingredient,” she says. “It goes with the chocolate in a fun and super different way.”
We agreed, but juniper can be hard to find, so we developed a version with rosemary, which has a similar woodsy quality. Both have a savory depth that balances the sweetness of the honey (whose hygroscopic properties help the cake retain moisture).
The infused syrup seeps into a tight crumb that’s reminiscent of pound cake, but with a much lighter texture. And thanks to bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder, the result sports deep, rich chocolate flavor.