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The One Ingredient Your Desserts Should Never Be Without


It's probably the most widely used ingredient in cooking. 

The One Ingredient Your Desserts Should Never Be Without

The One Ingredient Your Desserts Should Never Be Without

Salt! If you're not salting your desserts, you're not doing it right. This everyday ingredient is essential in both savory and sweet recipes, and the reason is quite simple: it's a flavor enhancer.

What do flavor enhancers do? They're used to subtly enhance the natural flavor profiles of different foods. They turn bland ingredients into delicious dishes. When used properly and in the right dosage, they are literal game changers for everything we eat.

But what does salt do for desserts exactly?

What's the Purpose of Salt in Desserts?

What's the Purpose of Salt in Desserts?

Salty is one of the five basic taste categories, alongside sweet, sour, bitter and umami. And salt is effective in both counteracting bitterness and enhancing sweetness. These qualities go a long way in all kinds of desserts that need a little bit of salt to balance out their complex flavors.

Structurally speaking, salt won't change a dessert recipe—not in the same way that miscalculated (or missing) quantities of flour, eggs, sugar or fat can. But when it comes to taste, salt takes desserts to a three-dimensional level of flavor in many ways, including:

  • toning down bitter dark chocolate and cocoa powder
  • bringing out the nuttiness in whole grain flours
  • magnifying the aroma and intensity of citrus fruits
  • offsetting the richness of fats like butter or nuts
  • neutralizing overly sugary flavors
  • increasing the depth of flavor in spices

So what kind of salt should you be using in your desserts?

Which Salt to Use in Desserts

Which Salt to Use in Desserts

It depends on how you're using it. In general, when using salt as a flavor enhancer, fine sea salt is a no-fail option and much better for you than refined table salt. You may also use kosher salt, which dissolves quickly in rich dough-based recipes (cookie dough, pie crusts) and caramels. If you're using salt as a garnish, flaky sea salt is the best option, thanks to its larger crystals that stand out visually. A little goes a long way. 

How much salt you add will depend on various quantities, but as a rule of thumb, you can adhere to:

  • 1/4 tsp salt for every 1 cup of flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt for every 1 cup of sugar

If a recipe has both flour and sugar, don't add salt in these proportions for both ingredients—start by adding salt based on one or the other, and adjust as necessary.

Hungry for more? Here's the secret ingredient your chocolate desserts are missing.

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