Exotic soda flavors make sauces, cakes really pop

By Carol Mighton Haddix and Lisa Schumacher

Chicago Tribune

Subtle flavors, minimal sugar, adult tastes. It’s the new world of soda pop. Supermarket shelves are devoting more space to these new carbonated beverages with flavors such as dragon fruit/blackberry, pomegranate, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, cucumber and lavender.

It’s one of the growing beverage categories, moving from $272 million in revenue in 2009 to an estimated $285 million in 2010, according to IBISWorld, an industry research firm.

While these exotic flavors are lovely to sip, we wondered if there was a way to take advantage of the fizzy drinks in cooking. After all, using sodas in cooking is not new. There is the famed Coca-Cola cake recipe that dates back to the 1930s. And the lesser-known, but addictive, root-beer barbecue sauce. But we thought it would be fun to create more up-to-date dishes using the new flavored drinks.

We found brands such as Izze, GuS, Dry Soda, Jones and Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale. After buying an assortment of the sodas at a few supermarkets, we brought them to the test kitchen and started experimenting.

Thinking about that Coca-Cola cake, we definitely wanted to include a cake, but one that wasn’t quite as sticky-sweet. We found a recipe for a layer cake made with sparkling wine and used that as a base, simply substituting a blood-orange soda for the wine. The flavor really came through in the cake and the frosting.

Then we asked, why not use the drinks for a salad dressing? They would add flavor and replace some of the oil for a lighter dressing.

The options seemed to grow the more we talked about it. Barbecue sauces, for sure, would be great with the slight fruity addition. Pan sauces for roasted poultry and pork. Cook the sodas to reduce them and you have glazes for grilled chicken, salmon or shrimp. Add them to meatball mixtures to lighten and flavor (ginger ale in Asian meatballs; pomegranate for a sweet tartness.)

Like kids in a soda store, we went a bit crazy. And the fun was just beginning. New flavors keep showing up. Rhubarb, lemon grass, hibiscus, juniper berry ...

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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