Toasted seeds can provide an aromatic crunch to any dish, particularly when dredged in confectioners' sugar and sea salt. While at Intro Chicago for the James Beard Foundation Awards this spring, Benjamin Sukle of Birch restaurant in Rhode Island took some time to make these dragéed seeds for us, doling out his expert tips along the way.
Seeds are concentrated bundles of flavor, and toasting them is the first step in bringing out their most aromatic compounds. A blend of anise, sesame, sunflower, poppy, coriander, and cumin seeds are toasted over medium heat until they are just lightly browned. The fragrant mixture is then brought up to high heat before powdered sugar is sprinkled over them, which gradually melts, thoroughly coating the seeds to give them an irresistible crunch and sweetness. They are spread on a piece of parchment or Silpat sheet to cool and harden before you can go in and break them apart into a fine crumble.
We can imagine any number of savory applications for these sugared seeds, from noodle salads to roasted veggies, but we like to treat them like fragrant little sprinkles and serve them over vanilla ice cream or fresh fruit sorbet.