Sweet Tooth or Salt Tooth?

There is an unsteady alliance when salt and sugar commingle.

It happens when the tastes are unblended and distinct; balanced in a dizzy dance on your tongue. Some of these couplings are legendary, like melon with prosciutto; some are classic, like french fries with ketchup; and some are questionable, like ‘Hawaiian’ pizza with pineapple and ham.

Lately we have spotted salt sneaking its way into more and more desserts. Of course salt has always had a place in baking– a small amount acts as a preservative, aids browning, and brings flavors into focus.  Forget to add salt to bread or a pie crust and it can end up tasting like cardboard. But this new breed of desserts features salt in a more prominent role. The content is higher, and it might even dust the top of a cake like powdered sugar.

Salted desserts are nothing new in other cultures. There are salted Chinese egg custards, Iranian salted watermelon, and salty Dutch licorice. The current trend in the U.S. goes back to 10 years ago when French fleur de sel caramels burst onto the candy scene.

Known for both abundant dairy production and locally harvested salt, the Brittany region of France has a long-standing caramel tradition. The added salt helps to bring out the browned butter flavor and balances the overwhelming sweetness that is typical of caramel. Brittany caramels first captured the attention of chefs who found that its complex, nuanced flavors took well to a variety of treatments. Salted caramels have since  found their way into the mainstream with salted caramel products like Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Starbucks cocoa, and Wal-Mart store brand chocolate truffles.

Sweet tooth or salt tooth? Now you don’t have to choose.


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One Response to Sweet Tooth or Salt Tooth?

  1. Smokey says:

    Once again you stir fond memories.

    there was always a salt shaker on the table with the watermelon at picnics when I was a kid. Delicious on melons!(cantaloupe too) I also will drop a smattering of the white stuff on a raw cucumber from time to time.


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