Culinary Creations: Pepper

One of the earliest known spices, pepper is a climbing vine native to the Malabar coast of India. Highly regarded as a condiment, it is widely cultivated in many tropical countries today. But did you know it was once grown in Singapore before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles as an article of trade?

Black pepper plant Black pepper plant

The fruits, sometimes called peppercorns, are picked when they start to turn red. They are then submerged in boiling water for about 10 minutes, which causes them to turn dark brown or black in an hour. Following which, they are spread out and left to dry in the sun for three or four days. The whole peppercorns, when ground, yield black pepper.

Black peppercorns and ground black pepper Black peppercorns and ground black pepper

Fragrant and subtle, pepper is used in kitchens worldwide. To get the very best flavour and aroma of pepper, grind it just before consuming it. While it is usually added to savoury dishes, it has also been introduced in desserts as a means of bringing out other flavours. Try this chocolatey recipe, elevated to something special with a pinch of salt and pepper!

Salt and Pepper Chocolate Torte

Pandan Chiffon Cake Recipe extracted from Heritage Garden Plants and Recipes by Daniela C. Zappi
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 1 large tin (397g) caramel
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • ¼ tsp finely ground black pepper


Serves 6 people

  1. Crush the biscuits in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin, then stir in the melted butter.
  2. Press the mixture into a baking tray, evenly covering the bottom and pushing up the sides to the edge. Chill until needed.
  3. Empty the tin of caramel into a small bowl and stir until loose. Add the sea salt and stir again.
  4. Slowly pour the salted caramel over the biscuit base. Spread evenly using the back of a spatula or spoon. Chill until needed.
  5. Melt the chocolate with the cream and coffee in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until combined and you have a shiny, thick chocolate sauce.
  6. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Stir through the black pepper.
  7. Carefully and slowly pour the chocolate over the caramel. Chill for at least 6 hours before serving.

Written by: Debbie Chen, Assistant Director (Education, Programming)

Debbie is an ardent reader who often finds herself nose-deep in a dystopian novel. She has been involved in education since graduating from university, and enjoys bringing information to people in an engaging way that helps them see things in a new light.

This article is part of our Culinary Creations series.