I’m a big fan of the sweet and salty flavor combination. Honey roasted peanuts, sea-salt caramels, chocolate peanut butter cups. The idea actually makes my mouth water. What is that?!
Turns out sweet & salty kinda support each other.
As a flavor enhancer, salt is not just for savory dishes, but is often used in baking sweets and desserts. Some people even sprinkle it on fruit to bring out the flavor of say, cantaloupe or grapefruit. Why you ask? Consider this little morsel:
A study done at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and published in the Oxford Journals showed that salt (or more specifically, sodium) actually suppressed bitterness. They found that in testing bitter compounds like caffeine and quinine, the perception of bitter taste was suppressed by sodium. So, salt doesn’t just enhance flavor, it actually makes things taste better by reducing the bitter! And in fact, salt reduces bitter tastes even more than sugar.
So here’s a classic salty sweet combo. My Mom made these yummy snacks a few years ago, and they have since become a staple in my house. I even give them out in little bags at Christmas time. They’re quite delicious, easy, and rather addictive. Enjoy!
1 C unsalted butter
1 C white sugar
1/4 C water
1 lb. Bag of mini twist pretzels
Makes about 100 mini pretzels
Sort through your pretzels and set aside any broken pieces.
Cover 2-3 large cookie sheets with silicone pads or parchment paper.
Have a small container of ice water nearby in case you burn your fingers.
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and water and stir until combined. Turn up heat to high, and cook, stirring constantly (yes, constantly, or it will burn) with a silicone or wooden spatula, until the mixture comes to a full boil. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture turns amber colored and reaches 300° on a candy thermometer, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off heat. The color will develop more even as the mixture cools, so believe the reading on your thermometer more than what the color looks like.
Working very quickly, dip the pretzels into the toffee mixture to coat the top half, and place on cookie sheets. It is important that you do this step as quickly as you can. I often enlist help.
Continue dipping until you’ve used all the toffee.
Note: I nearly always have problems at the end. As the toffee cools, the butter begins to separate, and the toffee starts to fall off the pretzels. Finish as many as you can, and pour the rest of the toffee on to the cookie sheets. Break this remaining toffee into small pieces and enjoy as candy.