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A decade ago, the notion of sprinkling salt on a tart or chocolate truffle was still a fringe concept, something you might find in a high-end pastry shop or the experimental dining room of a haute cuisine restaurant. Not anymore. It’s now almost hard not to come across a dessert menu that offers something both salty and sweet. A cookbook called Salty Sweets: Delectable Desserts and Tempting Treats with a Sublime Kiss of Salt even came out from Harvard Common Press last year.
Cooking and baking are often about coaxing new flavors from common ingredients, and the use of contrasting flavor notes—like hot and sour, for example, or salty and sweet—is what keeps food interesting and surprising. If you’re a fan of televised food competitions like Top Chef, you know a dish won’t win if the judges describe it as “one note.” A complexity of flavors makes food dance, and brings it to life on the palate.
For this reason, you’ll continue to find products like bacon paired with chocolate (consider Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar), sea salt sprinkled on caramels and ice cream, and recipes for salted coffee fudge sauce. One of the most popular treats I developed this year was a cacao nib pecan brittle with a sprinkling of crunchy salt. It’s the salt that elevated the dish from tasty to special.
How long the trend will last is anyone’s guess. In the mean time, next time you make a dessert—whether a cookie, tart, or pudding—sprinkle a bit of coarse salt on to finish, and watch how it makes the flavors pop.
Would you eat a bacon-flavored chocolate bar? Chime in below!
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