I'll admit it: I'm a savory kind of girl, the person who would choose a second helping of lasagna over a slice of chocolate cake. But Christie Matheson's new cookbook Salty Sweets: Delectable Desserts and Tempting Treats with a Sublime Kiss of Salt has rocked my savory world. Matheson has created 75 dessert recipes that incorporate salt, from little bites and cookies to puddings, cakes, and ice cream. And there are plenty of options for a savory girl like me (Lavender Fleur de Sel Shortbread, Fig and Ricotta Pizza, and Chocolate Covered Pretzels anyone?) I had a little chat with Matheson to get the lowdown on the world of salty desserts, and got her to part with a recipe (chocolate truffles - the perfect holiday gift).
What is your favorite salty/sweet combo?
It's tough to pick just one...just about anythingsweet is enhanced by a touch of salt. I especially love salted caramels--alittle salt is the perfect contrast to the sweetness and ever so slightly burntflavor of classically prepared caramel. And good chocolate is brilliant with abit of salt--salt brings out the chocolate's complex flavors.
What type of salt works best in dessert?
I really like sea salt. I think the flavor is best.Specifically, I like fleur de sel and Maldon sea salts as finishing salts, andfine sea salt baked into desserts. Kosher saltalso works. But stay away from iodized table salt! The flavor just isn't asgood.
Is there any type of dessert thatdoesn't work with salt?
Perhaps a savory cheese plate, in that it doesn'treally need added salt. But the saltiness of cheese matched with a sweetaccompaniment or two (such as truffle honey or fig compote) is what makes a cheese plate so delicious!
What is the most unusual salty/sweetcombo you've ever encountered?
At this point I've tried so many salty sweets thatnothing strikes me as unusual! But I'd say light fruit desserts aresurprisingly good with a touch of salt. It's more expected with things likecaramel, butterscotch, peanut butter...but it's also fantastic with a melonsorbet (I have a recipe for watermelon sorbet in the book) and lemon sugar cookies (I have a recipe for lemon sugar cookieswith zesty lime salt).
Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles
Makes about30 truffles
8 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
About 30 crystals coarse sea salt
1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring thecream almost to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, then pour itimmediately over the chocolate. Let stand for 4 to 5 minutes to melt thechocolate.
2. When the chocolate is melted, add the fine seasalt and whisk gently until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk gently toincorporate completely. Cover loosely and refrigerate until firm, at least 2hours.
3. Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop about 1teaspoon of the chocolate mixture and roll into a 3/4-inch round truffle. Rollthe truffle in cocoa powder and gently press 1 crystal of coarse salt into thetop of the truffle to secure it. Place on a plate or in a container, andcontinue until all the truffle mixture has been used.
4. Return the truffles to the refrigerator to chilluntil firm, at least 20 minutes. The truffleswill keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Servechilled or at room temperature.