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Apr 9, 2008 01:58 PM

For desserts: more salt, less sugar please!

Hi, I've been on a pastry rampage lately, and I find myself using more and more salt to get ideal results. While I love desserts, I often find them way too sweet. I find that a lot of people are taught to keep on adding sugar to strengthen the taste of a dessert when they should be adding salt. It's often that I find my desserts to have the ideal sweetness, but a bit bland in flavor. You add salt, not sugar!

Pastry and desserts are just like any other food. There's a difference between spicing and seasoning. Sugar is a spice and salt is a seasoning. If a steak is too bland, you're not going to keep on adding pepper until it's right are you? Adding sugar to a dessert until it tastes right is no more absurd than peppering a steak until it tastes right. I think desserts shouldn't be any sweeter than a nice, ripe fruit. Anything sweeter is just unnatural. I have no clue where adding salt to a dessert became "weird" to a lot of people, but I think it's something that should definitely be taught more. Seasoning is probably the most important and fundamental part of cooking; I don't think it should be any different in the pastry world. What do you guys think?

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  1. Yeah, there needs to be a balance. I think one reason why I hate those Magnolia and Buttercup cupcakes (aside from it being bone dry) is that it tastes like there's no salt (or way too little). There's a discussion about Asian desserts on this board and jlafler came up with a very interesting theory that a lot of Asian desserts lack acidity or bitterness to counteract the sweetness. And I'm also in your boat about desserts shouldn't be too sweet. Love that Haagen Daaz has started to carry salted caramel ice cream.

    1. I agree. I love deserts with a tang of salt as well as sweet - as you said, too much sugar does not improve the taste. At my bakery I sell products to wholesale clients. When they ask for pastries that aren't too sweet I'm able to push our alternatives, such as cinnamon sticks. They are mildly sweet, but have a bit of salt and lots of cinnamon taste instead of too much sugar!

      As a kid I always loved some salt with sweets. I remember going to Dairy Queen (well, I WAS a kid lol!) and always needing some salted peanuts to top my ice cream. Salt does improve the sweet taste!

      1. The perfect chocolate chip cookie cannot be made without the right amount of salt.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          nor brownies. A brownie without a proper amount salt tastes flat and unappetizing.