Soy for dessert? It’s possible

Desserts warmly welcome soy and its by-products into their sweet domain

Photo by Patrick Segovia

With the constant search for well-balanced desserts, soy has gained a steady popularity in the confectionary world. Soy and its sub-products often find themselves alongside sugar to make the perfect sweet-and-salty combo most people look for these days.

There’s a lot to gain when using soybeans for desserts. Basically a legume, the soybean is fat-free and significantly cheap. It is a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Soybeans can also be processed in many ways and their by-products are just as popular as the bean itself. There’s soy milk and tofu, which provide a distinct flavor and texture when incorporated in desserts. The tofu skin is used in special diets and Asian cooking. Fermented soy food includes soy sauce, fermented bean paste, and miso paste.

Soybean flowers have been gaining ground as a garnish in Scandinavian dishes, relying on their flashy purple or pink hue for presentation and also for their distinct flavor. Even immature soybeans make the cut as they are very popular in Japanese cuisine. Edamame is one example. Normally eaten as an appetizer, it is steamed until tender and tossed with table salt. In dessert form, edamame has been churned into ice cream and turned into mochi.

Initially, soy milk and soybean purées were used exclusively in desserts to satisfy certain dietary restrictions and because they make good alternatives to dairy products. These days, chefs depend on the soybean’s subtle and unique taste for pastries.

Initially, soy milk and soybean purées were used exclusively in desserts to satisfy certain dietary restrictions and because they make good alternatives to dairy products. These days, chefs depend on the soybean’s subtle and unique taste for pastries. Used in several pastry applications, fermented soy sauce in desserts is fast becoming popular in Japan and Europe. This time, I let the soybean take center stage and count on its many forms to compose a dessert in a cup, or, in kitchen slang, what you would call a verrine.

A verrine is a small and thick glass container with no base. It was only recently that the verrine became popular for presenting desserts, especially since a variety of cups in different shapes, forms, and sizes have become readily available. It is an easy and artistic way to interpret a simple dessert, as this recipe proves.


Makes 4 10-oz glass cups


30 grams soybeans

35 grams barley malt powder

20 grams all-purpose flour

35 grams skimmed milk powder


  1. In a food processor, pulverize the soybeans. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepot over medium heat, toast the flour, powdered soybeans, and barley malt powder. Cool and sift together with the skimmed milk powder. Let cool and place in a sealed container until ready for use.

12 pieces edamame seeds, blanched

4 grams confectioner’s sugar

1 gram salt

oil for deep frying

  1. Place edamame seeds in a dehydrator tray and into a dehydrator set at number 6. Leave to dehydrate for at least 6 hours.
  2. When completely dry, deep fry until puffed. Let cool.
  3. Toss in confectioner’s sugar and salt. Set aside.

120 grams agar agar powder

80 ml light soy sauce

300 ml water

25 grams brown sugar

  1. In a small bowl, bloom agar agar powder in lukewarm water for 8 minutes.
  2. In a saucepot over medium heat, simmer soy sauce, water, and brown sugar.
  3. Pour simmering mixture onto the agar agar mixture. Stir and let the agar agar dissolve completely.
  4. While mixture is still hot, pour into glass cups.
  5. Let set in room temperature.

120 grams soy beans

500 grams soy milk

40 grams honey

20 grams olive oil

  1. Boil soybeans in a saucepot until softened. Drain water and let cool.
  2. In a blender, process softened soybeans, soy milk, honey, and olive oil until smooth. Set aside.

2 gelatin sheets (2 grams each)

6 grams ice

90 grams white sugar

30 ml water, divided

30 ml honey

30 grams dark miso paste

  1. Bloom gelatin sheets in 10 ml water and ice for at least 8 minutes.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepot, boil sugar, honey, and water until 120°C or until it reaches soft ball stage.
  3. Place gelatin a standing mixer with whisk attachment set at medium speed. Pour the hot mixture onto the gelatin. Whip until stiff.
  4. Add miso paste and continue whipping until well incorporated.
  5. Pipe mixture into verrine and on top of the gelée right away.

Just before serving, remove verrine with soy sauce gelée and miso marshmallow from chiller. Smear a spoonful of hummus on one side of the glass. Place 3 pieces of puffed edamame on the sides of the marshmallow. Decorate with chocolate, herbs, and sponge cake, if you like. Finish by straining soybean powder on top.

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