To come up with an idea for a shareable dessert, Scott Stroud, a sorority chef at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, turned to nachos. “I like reversing a recipe, taking something savory and making it sweet,” he says. So he started with one of college kids’ favorite snacks—nachos—and swapped in sweet ingredients for the traditional tortilla chips, melted cheese, tomatoes and other toppings. Before he rolled out the dessert nachos to the students, he tested them on the 11-year-old “little sister” his girlfriend mentors through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
“It turned into a fun collaborative effort,” says Stroud. The resulting dessert can be served as an individual or shared sweet snack. Plus, the recipe can be adapted to diners with dietary restrictions—a group that seems to increase in number every year, says the chef. For the lactose intolerant, he can use a creamy, dairy-free cheese instead of the mascarpone; for gluten-free eaters, corn tortillas can stand in for the flour version.
Here are some of the steps he took when tweaking the dish:
To make the chips, Stroud cuts each flour tortilla into eight triangles, tosses them with melted butter and coats them with cinnamon and sugar. The tortilla wedges are baked until crisp but still a little pliable. “Baking instead of frying is healthier and tastier, and the delightful crunch of these cinnamon-sugar ‘churro chips’ pairs perfectly with the subtle sweetness of the dip and fresh fruit,” he says.
The base for the dip is creamy mascarpone cheese. “Mascarpone is a blank slate for adding flavor,” says Stroud. He sweetens it with honey from the local farmers market, then stirs in cinnamon, vanilla and lemon zest. To meld the flavors, the dip is chilled until ready to serve.
For service, Stroud drizzles the dessert nachos with chocolate syrup and tops them with fresh strawberries, blueberries and chopped mint leaves. When fresh berries are not available, other seasonal fruits can be substituted, he says.
Photo courtesy of Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese