Sinking your teeth into a bite of Ashley Strickland Freeman’s triple-chocolate mousse cake, you would never imagine that Duke’s Mayonnaise is one of the star ingredients. Mayo and chocolate may sound like a bizarre pairing, but this classic condiment can add a whole new level of flavor to your favorite dessert.

“It’s one of my secret ingredients,” said Freeman. “You can use it for a lot of different recipes, things you wouldn’t even think of.”

Like, dessert perhaps?

[image-1] Freeman’s triple-chocolate mousse cake recipe was inspired by the popular Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, a recipe known for its unappetizing name. During the Great Depression, this baking substitution caught on because it could replace more expensive ingredients like eggs and oil. But Freeman took this recipe and kicked it up a notch with a triple layered Duke’s mayo chocolate batter separated by a light chocolate mousse and topped with a rich ganache frosting.

Although Freeman said that picking a favorite recipe is almost as difficult as picking a favorite child, the dessert section of her new book, The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook: 75 Recipes Celebrating the Perfect Condiment, is near and dear to her heart.

“You tend to think, ‘mayonnaise in dessert — ugh, gross.’ But, the triple chocolate mousse cake is pretty fantastic. The addition of Duke’s makes the batter very moist,” she said.

Featuring recipes for breakfast and brunch, lunch and dinner, sides and snacks and, of course, dessert, this cookbook is Freeman’s first entirely solo project.

Growing up in Savannah, the author knew from a young age that she wanted to be involved in the world of food. After an internship with Oxmoor House’s Coastal Living Magazine, she went to culinary school in New York before landing a full-time job back in the Oxmoor House test kitchen. She eventually found her way to Charleston where she became involved in the community through the local chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier.

[image-2] Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, recipe developer and food stylist — she currently prepares the plates for the show Delicious Miss Brown on Food Network. Freeman has ghostwritten several recipe books but was always hoping to create her own one day.

“My dream has always been to have my own cookbook with my name on the front,” she said. “So, I was trying to think of a way to make that happen and write about something that I wouldn’t get sick of after a month or two, and it happened to be Duke’s Mayonnaise.”

Many people in the culinary world praise Duke’s for its versatility and stellar taste, but for a long time, this mayo brand was a strictly Southern ingredient. When Freeman was attending culinary school in New York, it was nearly impossible to find Duke’s up north, helping her realize just how important this underrated ingredient can be.

“When I was doing research for the book, I came across all these chefs that swear by it, and there was really this cult following,” Freeman said. “I think it’s because it doesn’t have sugar but has more egg yolks. To me, it’s the closest thing to homemade if you don’t want to make your own mayo from scratch.”

If you want to try your hand at whipping up some of Freeman’s favorite mayo-inspired dishes, order a copy of this hilarious and delightfully fun cookbook, which hits the shelves on June 30.