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Miso Butterscotch Topping

Burnt things are good. Miso is good. Therefore burnt miso must be great.

This is an adaptation of a condiment I first ate when Christina Tosi of Milk Bar used it as a sauce for a deep-fried apple pie. I find it to be criminally good just on plain vanilla ice cream. It’s a good use for the end of a dwindling tub of miso, and keeps for weeks once it’s made. —Peter Meehan

At Momofuku Milk Bar we like to burn sweet things to add a savory note and depth of flavor that are often missing from desserts. We also like to use miso just about whenever we can, because there’s nothing else like it. It’s sweet, it’s nutty, it’s salty. It’s a great bridge between traditional savory flavors and traditional sweet flavors, and, just like burning something, it adds depth to a sweet dish that is hard to achieve otherwise.

It was very early on in the life of the pastry program at Momofuku that I stumbled on the idea of burnt miso. My deductive logic went like this:

Burnt things are good.
Miso is good.
Therefore burnt miso must be great.

I spread a layer of shiro miso on a Silpat and let it ride in the oven until the white miso had turned a chocolatey brown. Each additional minute in the oven, it smelled better and richer and nuttier—not unlike the way butter smells better and better as it browns—and I knew I had a winner on my hands.

I scraped the results into a blender and added some things to balance out the saltiness: brown sugar (for depth and sweetness), butter (for volume and to tone down the flavor-bomb intensity of the burnt miso to a usable, everyday level), and sherry vinegar (because acid makes flavors pop and seem brighter).

I like to think of this recipe as shabby chic. You take a few well-worn ingredients, add the cheapest form of miso, and make something greater than the sum of its parts. We originally used the resulting “miso butterscotch” as part of a deep-fried apple-pie dessert on the opening menu of Ko. But I guarantee that way more of it got heated up quickly in the microwave and drizzled over ice cream than on customers’ plates. Use it at home just like you’d use Hershey’s syrup! —Christina Tosi

This is excerpted from Power Vegetables!, our cookbook of meat-free cooking that even carnivores can get behind. Order it today and get our instant-download Cornzine and a limited-edition enamel pin.

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Ingredients

Makes 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 C shiro miso
  • 1/4 C mirin
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 T hot water

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Spread the miso out in an even layer, about 1/4 inch thick, on the lined baking sheet. Bake it until the miso is well browned and quite a bit burnt around the edges, about 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly.

  2. Scrape the miso into a blender. Add the mirin, brown sugar, butter, and water to the miso and blend until smooth. You can add a splash more water if the mixture is too tight. Store in the fridge, and nuke or warm on the stove (if you have the patience) before serving.