How to Use Salt in Sweets

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Savoring dessert carries a double meaning in my book. To fully enjoy most sweets, whether they are chocolate, fruit or candy-based, a little salt goes a long way to make the flavors pop. As the pastry chef at Miami's top restaurant, I'm always trying to nudge guests a little bit outside their comfort zone. Sometimes the easiest way to do it is by baking some kosher salt into raw sugar-dusted sesame shortbread for a supportive boost you wouldn't even know unless I told you. Or, better yet, go a little more obvious with a sprinkle of light and flaky Maldon sea salt on top of creamy, frozen truffle-like Milk Chocolate Cremoso. I love the raised eyebrows it provokes upon hitting the table — of course shortly followed by the, "Oh, I see, this completely makes sense," look.

Just think about it. While it's probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of dessert, it's actually not that far-fetched of an idea. We've been baking salt into our desserts since we were kids. (Remember the Nestlé Toll House cookies package?) When baking at home, think outside the salt shaker. Try to pay attention to the types of salt you are using as there's likely a perfect variety for each application in both the savory and the sweet kitchen.

  • I especially love adding salt to homemade ice creams. When making a quart of ice cream, add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt to the warming cream.
  • Maldon salt or very coarse salt should only be used to finish desserts, not bake desserts.
  • If a recipe calls for salt, never use idolized salt. Period. Using salt in desserts does not make the dessert salty. It really wakes up all the flavors in the dish. Trust me on this.

A sprinkle a day could be a delicious thing.

Hedy Goldsmith is the executive pastry chef of James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz’s restaurants, including Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami and Grand Cayman, and Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami. She's also a contributor on Cooking Channel's Unique Sweets , has been featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate and lauded in Bon Appétit , People , and Food & Wine magazines. She was also nominated in the highly competitive and nationally contested category of Outstanding Pastry Chef at the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards. Hedy’s first cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors (Clarkson Potter / Publishers), will be released October 2.

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