Who doesn’t love desserts? Most of us love having it even after we are full. As one says “there’s always room for dessert”. Then, what’s your favourite dessert? Mine and most of humanity is chocolate, we love it to death. The age range doesn’t matter, it is loved by toddlers to elders. We swear on the smell and it's a sweet-bitter rich flavour of chocolate. But did you know your favourite chocolate devour mostly contains salt? Again, "a pinch of salt" is always added in dessert recipes, including chocolate. Even chocolate makers and chocolatiers are still adding salt to the chocolate as you will always find a Sea Salt bar in their assortments.
It must be because salt pairs wonderfully with chocolate!
But why does salt and chocolate taste good together? Even imagining it by the sounds of salt and cocoa finding themselves together is very mouth watering. Here are some of the reason why:
Salt is a sugar detector. It sounds counterproductive, but it's not. Contradictory, salt increases and intensifies our bodies ability to taste sweetness. When there is sodium, which is salt, the sensors located in our tongue that normally doesn’t respond to sugar process glucose as sweet. It's like another sugar detector is being signalled. Resulting in, it not only alerts our 'salt sensitivity', but also triggers a reaction with our 'sweet sensitive' taste buds to make them more receptive to sweet flavours.
That is why you will not underestimate ‘a pinch of salt’ in any of your recipes. Because it gives life and energy to the simplest recipes, makes the flavours "pop". Explaining why most sweet foods, desserts or baked goods will have some amounts of salt added. Nonetheless, our beloved chocolate is no exception.
A smart quote by Carla, food editor at Bon Appétit, “chocolate just takes so well to the flavours of salt and kind of brings out all of the flavours in the chocolate itself…..so if you try making a crust or cookie without salt it’s going to taste very one-dimensional”. A rounder chocolate flavour will come up which makes it nothing one-dimensional and the intrinsic flavours will be faster brought to the surface if there’s salt.
Another reason is salt adds texture and flavour. Some adore the crunch on their desserts. Which is why crunchiness makes chocolate more intriguing. When chocolatiers add salt to their masterpiece, it is because they want to emphasise the chocolate taste or to actually taste the salt in the chocolate. Based on the texture of the salt, it can be the secret to revive a flat chocolate, or to bring a wonderful one to the next level.
A grainier sea salt is perfect to ‘pop’ the flavour of chocolate. As salt in this case has a supportive role, finer salt with tiny and almost imperceptible grains is very suitable as it won’t interfere too much with the smoothness of the chocolate. In the second case, to actually taste the salt, it is best to use a coarser sea salt. It gives its own texture and flavour to the table. The grains are larger to give a salty crunchy taste to the chocolate, which results in crunchy chocolate where salt can be detected at first sight.
Of course, one needs to be careful with the amount of ‘a pinch of salt’ they are using. Too little, and they don't get the benefits and too much would make it taste entirely like salt. The way to avoid getting too little or too much salt in your chocolate is to pinch the salt based on your own preferences and keep the balance. The saltiness shouldn't pass unnoticed, or overpower the rich classic chocolate flavour.