It’s hard to resist temptation in Miami, especially when it comes to Hedy Goldsmith’s creations. The beloved pastry chef is a two-time James Beard Award nominee and author of “Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors.” Her sweets are known far and wide for their ingenuity and harmonious profiles.
Goldsmith has worked with superstar chef Michael Schwartz for the past 16 years, resulting in must-try culinary adventures at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Harry’s Pizzeria, and The Cypress Room in the Design District as well as at The Raleigh Hotel in South Beach.
We chat with Goldsmith about finding balance, her favorite flavors and her predictions for the future of desserts in Miami.
Oasis: Where do you find sweet surrender?
Goldsmith: I love indulging in doing nothing but sitting on the beach and reading the The New York Times. I generally stay away from desserts. I’ll pack something bubbly in a cooler — fabulous, fun Champagne. Maybe some frozen grapes. I prefer to drink my calories.
Oasis: Tell me how you conceptualize your desserts. What’s your process?
Goldsmith: There’s always a process. I’m very organized that way. It always starts with an ingredient… Could be the fruit or a chocolate. I always know I want to highlight and focus on a flavor. That’s first. Then, I think about texture. I always want to play with texture and get different kinds of textures into a dessert, while balancing sweet with acid or salt. I look at it as a savory way of approaching it. Balance the sweet so that the dessert can be enjoyed from start to finish. I want the palate to be refreshed at different points throughout the dish. Ultimately, this is what I find the most interesting about dessert.
Oasis: What are your favorite flavors to mix in a dessert?
Goldsmith: I find that to be a seasonal answer. Seasons do change, but it’s always tropical here. I like to look at it as fall/autumn and then summer.
During the fall, I focus on big and bold flavors. I like to push the envelope with star anise, big bourbon flavors, and the bigger, heavier herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme. There’s also cinnamon, curry and other bitter flavors that can stand up to the other ingredients.
For summer, I love citrus. I think it’s bright. It’s a great balance for a creamy/custardy texture or cake texture. It cleanses the palate. My favorite candy is Sour Patch Kids because I love the sour and sweet combination.
I will also use softer herbs such as basil and tarragon, along with arugula, pickled fruits (pickled peaches or cherries) and pepper.
Oasis: Dessert is usually the last thing a guest will remember about their meal. What do you want them to walk away thinking?
Goldsmith: I really want guests to walk away saying that their meal was seamless. I think that so many restaurateurs have a disconnect with their pastry program. I want our guests to say, ‘Oh yeah, that makes perfect sense.’ Michael’s food is so well balanced; I want the desserts to be well balanced. It’s so important to me.
Oasis: What’s next for desserts in Miami? Do you have plans to start new trends?
Goldsmith: With the four different establishments we have now, we have a great opportunity to explore new things. The Cypress Room is where everything has come full circle. It’s a return to a more labor-intensive dessert.
I came from a past of having a thousand ingredients in my desserts. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink has always been such a wonderful foray into everything. There, my desserts organically became rustic and more flavor-forward. Now, at Cypress, it’s very feminine and delicious. A return to elegant dining. This is something we haven’t seen in years.
Something I’ve always wanted to do (but no plans to do as of now) is to open up a small, speakeasy-style restaurant just for desserts. Guests could come from wherever they’ve had dinner to enjoy desserts paired with cocktails.
A Bourbon and Bonbons kind of thing. Imagine beautifully arranged desserts and a great cocktail program, all served at a small chefs table with a tasting menu. This would be a great addition to the Design District, which is changing and morphing into an incredible area. It would be a fun place to augment the other establishments there.
The last word:
“At the end of the day, you gotta love what you do. This is the best job in the world.”