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5 Ways to Turn Focaccia Into a Sweet Treat

Focaccia is undoubtedly having a moment on Instagram, and we’re here for it. While making a homemade batch is easy as can be (see our recipes for basic homemade focaccia, roasted garlic focaccia, and olive-rosemary focacccia), I can’t say I’m always ready to hop off the couch and prep a batch for the oven—fortunately good store-bought focaccia isn’t hard to find.  While good quality homemade focaccia or store-bought focaccia is satisfying on its own, there are myriad ways to dress it up. Of course there are many savory spins on focaccia (olive, tomato, and onion are some of my favorite add-ins), but it’s the sweet takes that are particularly piquing our interest now.

Once we saw this post using focaccia as a vessel for an ice cream sandwich, I and the rest of the Serious Eats team started furiously brainstorming other ways to turn this typically savory bread into a sweet treat. Here are just a few of our favorite sweet spins on focaccia.

Serious Eats / Yasmine Maggio

Ice Cream Sandwich

Using slices of focaccia instead of cookies for an ice cream sandwich is genius, so we had to include it here. It’s as simple as scooping your favorite ice cream and smushing it between two pieces of focaccia. I tried plain focaccia with vanilla ice cream as well as with coffee ice cream, and both were delicious, but I can see this working well with other ice cream flavors, so play around with it—you never know what new combinations you’ll discover. Rosemary focaccia with honey or peach ice cream is one we want to try soon.

Since the average slice of focaccia is normally quite thick, I suggest cutting it down the middle to create two pieces. For maximum smushing capacity, it’s best to go with un-toasted focaccia here; a warm piece will lead your ice cream to melt rapidly, and a crisp one is an easy route to your sandwich falling apart faster than your life….

Serious Eats / Yasmine Maggio

Nutella, Pistachio Cream, and Other Sweet Spreads

Good focaccia is more flavorful than your average piece of toast, which makes it the ideal vessel for your favorite spreads. Anything goes here: a chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella, dulce de leche, and pistachio cream are great choices, but I particularly liked the simple combination of salted butter and a drizzle of honey. Whichever spread you choose to slather on your focaccia, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt is an ideal finishing touch.

This is a great option for a quick sweet snack, but if you’re entertaining, you could also cut the focaccia up into bite-size pieces and then toast them in the oven before adding your spread of choice, in the vein of  baguette toasts. 

Bread Pudding

If your focaccia is nearing the end of its freshness or is already stale, going the bread pudding route is a great way to use it up. You can use any bread pudding recipe and sub focaccia for the listed bread. Once mixed with the other ingredients and baked, the focaccia will take on a soft, spoonable texture—an ideal dessert to scoop into a bowl and cozy up with on the couch.

French Toast

One of the great things about French toast is how adaptable it is—you can make it with many different types of (preferably stale) bread, including white bread, challah, brioche, and, yes, focaccia. Since focaccia tends to be thick, we recommend leaving it in the egg bath slightly longer than you would with thinner bread to be sure it soaks it up well. Another option is to slice the focaccia into thinner pieces before placing it in the eggy mixture. However you do it, senior culinary editor Leah Colins, who first hatched this idea for focaccia French toast, recommends adding a bit of vanilla.  

Bread & Fruit Dessert Salad

Panzanella, but make it sweet? Don’t mind if we do! This idea from culinary editor Genevieve Yam is essentially a fruit salad with bread. You’ll want to cut up the focaccia into bite-size pieces and toss with whatever fruit you’d like (grapes and berries are my personal favorites), then season with a good quality olive oil, sea salt, and some citrus zest.

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