There’s a reason that salted caramel is beloved the world over. It’s the same reason that your favorite brownie recipe wouldn’t be the same without a pinch of salt. Even if we love desserts foremost for their sweetness, it’s salt that allows sugar to really sing. Why? Because a little bit of salt actually enhances the experience of sweets, providing balance and contrast to heighten the enjoyment. Chocolate ice cream is delicious on its own, but a sprinkle of salt takes it to the next level. These recipes celebrate that perfect pairing of salty and sweet, and each deserves a place on your table this summer, from the dainty and elegant to the rustic and fun.
A pretty afternoon get-together with girlfriends calls for pastry, plus a relaxed environment, champagne, and bright florals. There’s no reason that the sweets can’t be floral, too. Take your guests on a sensory trip to the Middle East with Rose Water Tartlets with Pomegranate & Salted Pistachios. Rose water is refreshing and fragrant, adding an uncanny perfume to white chocolate ganache in individual tartlets. The intense sweetness of white chocolate ganache is balanced with tart pomegranate seeds and salted pistachios. The salt in the pistachios cuts down the sweetness of the ganache while providing a bit of texture to the creamy rose water filling. What’s more, these tartlets can be prepared ahead of time and chilled, so you can get the baking out of the way well before guests arrive. Then, pop open your fridge and dessert is on the table.
For a season where fruit is at its absolute best, it’s difficult to improve on perfectly ripe peaches, nectarines, or plums — that is unless you decide to grill them. Grilled Peaches with Salted Coconut Crumble further gild the lily by adding a crunchy, salty topping to the juicy, slightly smoky fruit. This is an easy dessert for a summer barbecue, or even a weeknight when you happen to be grilling. The bonus is that the crumble can be made ahead and served on a variety of summer fruits — peaches, nectarines, mango, pineapple, or plums.
Frozen treats are quintessential to summer. Ice cream in some form — a sundae or cone— is compulsory for any vacation, walk on the boardwalk, or trip to the state fair. Store-bought ice cream is more than fine but there’s a thrill in making your own, especially when it can be made without any special equipment, not even an ice cream maker. No Churn Ice Cream with Roasted Hazelnuts & Salted Honey Swirl layers sweet cream with ribbons of honey, punctuated with flecks of sea salt and crunchy, toasted hazelnuts.
Though lounging on the beach with a piña colada may not be possible all summer long, baking the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Salted Maple Glaze may help satisfy your tropical wanderlust in your own kitchen. Sweet caramelized pineapple and mellow coconut in the cake offer a beautiful contrast to the sticky, salted maple syrup. The salt amplifies the fruit’s natural sweetness turning it into an enhanced version of itself.
Photos by Sonali Ghosh