Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

A Pinch of Salt: The Not-So-Secret Ingredient in To-Die-For Desserts

A little salt enhances decadent butterscotch, chocolate, and caramel desserts.

October/November 2014 Issue
Photos: Colin Clark
Save to Recipe Box
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Add Recipe Note

As a recipe developer with a major sweet tooth, I’m in charge of the desserts in my house—except when my husband whips up his culinary specialty, hot fudge. I usually stand back and let him do his thing, but one night as I watched him make it, I spotted a huge hole in his formula. Pulling rank, I reached over his shoulder and made a quick addition that took the flavor from good to great. The secret? A generous pinch of salt—just enough to be noticeable. It accented the chocolate’s sweetness, masked its bitterness, and generally made the flavors pop.

See a slideshow of more salty-sweet desserts.

While salt as a backdrop in confections is nothing new, it’s becoming increasingly common to use enough that desserts actually have a bit of a salty edge to them. Think of the now-ubiquitous salted caramel: The salt keeps the caramel from being too sweet and pulls all those warm, toasty notes to the forefront. It’s what makes the Salted Caramel Apple-Pear Tart especially delicious.

Inspired by the hot fudge experience, I decided to play with salted desserts beyond caramel. I came up with a to-die-for browned butter-banana cake with salted dark chocolate ganache, seen here, and a sinfully rich salted butterscotch crème brûlée. Try them and you’ll see that a sprinkle of salt is all it takes to make desserts taste as if they were prepared with a professional sweet tooth looking over your shoulder.

What a flake

Kosher salt is fine to use when the salt will be dissolved, as in the salted caramel tart filling on page 84, but I like to use a coarser finishing salt as a garnish, for both looks and crunch.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Maldon: This sea salt harvested in England forms little pyramids that break down into light, fluffy, crunchy flakes.

Fleur de sel: French for “flowers of salt,” this Atlantic sea salt is handharvested and has a fine, fluffy appearance and texture.

Cyprus flake: These pyramids of salt have a shiny, crystalline appearance and strong crunch. It can also be found in black.

Himalayan pink salt: Naturally striking in color, this salt has coarse, crunchy crystals and a minerally flavor. It adds a dramatic pop of color.


Leave a Comment


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 50%

Already a subscriber? Log in.


View All


Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, subscribe today.

Get the print magazine, 25 years of back issues online, over 7,000 recipes, and more.

Start your FREE trial