Okay, Fine, I'll Say It Again: Put Some Salt in That Dessert

The scene of the crime.

The scene of the crime

Dinner at Bonefish Grill was quite successful last evening.  The Beloved bowed to my strange, non-seafoody ways and let me order the southwest chicken egg roll things for an appetizer.  I know that most restaurants serve a version of these things, but I just love them.  And what's not to love?  Fried dough + chicken + beans + peppers = yum.

The Beloved then got Down to Business with some rare tuna with mango salsa (to which I said, "Shouldn't that be roast duck?"  That Geico commercial was my favorite ever).  I had their new sirloin with some crazy-good, cheesy, panko topped au gratin potatoes.  (The sirloin was cooked to a perfect medium rare, but it bled out on the plate when I cut into it because they hadn't let it rest long enough).  I did manage to eat some green leafies, in the form of a Caesar salad.  I know it's not the healthiest salad in the world, but it was quite good.  I need to get them to NOT use parmesan from a green can, though.  I think that, for ten bucks they could probably get away with 3-4 nice shavings of real parm on their salad, but what do I know?

So, we drank wine and laughed and talked and ate and ate.  It was lovely.  And then Brooke, our delightful server, appeared across the room with a Thing with a Candle stuck in it.  She was behind The Beloved, and I told him what was coming.  He was braced for some hand-clapping obnoxiousness, but Brooke just set down what turned out to be a creme brule and said that because it was his birthday, he gets a complementary brule.  And they didn't even check hisID; they just believed me when I said I was taking him out for his birthday! I'm just saying that the Unscrupulous among us might make off with a free dessert at Bonefish.

Friends, I try and keep my penchant for salt under wraps.  I really do.  As hard as it might be for some of you to believe, sometimes I come off as a bit of a nut job extolling people to put salt in their desserts.  And, it was The Beloved's birthday, so I really just should have left it alone.  But I could not.  I took one bite of this thing and was Very Sad.  The texture was perfect.  The caramelized sugar offered a satisfying crack! when I plunged my spoon through it.  The custard was nice and cool on the bottom and still a bit warm on top from the torching.  In short, it was just about perfect.  And then I put it in my face, and the whole thing just fell flat.  Even The Beloved was all, "Where the hell is the salt?"

We also ordered some big flourless chocolate brownie, raspberry sauce, macadamia nut kind of thing, and the hapless dude who brought it to us had to hear my harangue about the salt.  I told him more or less what I just told you guys--that it was perfect, and perfectly flat.  I told him that I knew it was probably a corporate recipe but that someone should just "accidentally" throw some salt into the mix.  He said that I was right!  That he had tasted it and thought it was boring and agreed that salt would make sense since it "wakes up the palate!"  Go, Chad (or whatever your name was).

So then, Brooke came back, and I just couldn't leave well enough alone.  I launched into the whole salt thing with her.  I even shamelessly played the Pastry Chef Card, so she would know that I kind of know what I'm talking about.  I found out that Frank makes the creme brule, and I told her to tell old Frank to add just a little bit of salt at a time to the mix until it was perfect.  And, you know what, I think she might tell old Frank that, and I think old Frank will give it a whirl.  And I bet that, if you go to the Bonefish Grill on Weston Parkway in North Cary and order the creme brule, it will be some of the best you've ever had.  As long as Frank doesn't let me down.  As a matter of fact, if you do go there and order the creme brule and it's all flat and dumb, ask to speak to Frank and see what he has to say for himself.

Oh, about the brownie--it needed some salt, too, but it was still pretty good, mostly because the macs were salted.  The raspberry sauce needed either salt, lemon juice or both.  The other saltiest thing on the plate was the ice cream, and that's saying something.

When I was all sick-but-at-the-beach-anyway a couple of weeks ago, my friend ordered a piece of German Chocolate Cake.  Flat, flat, flat.  She sprinkled salt on it, and it was all of a sudden Way Better.  So, of course I told the server to tell someone in the kitchen that the cake needed salt.  She was like, "Salt?!  Really?  I would never have thought of that!"  Sometimes, I just despair.  Alas, will my work ever be done?  Please help me spread the word, people.

And, if you're not putting salt in your desserts--fruity, vanilla-y, chocolate-y, cake-y or otherwise--please just add some already.  I need some tea.


  1. says

    Yes! Dessert needs salt! In my first kitchen job, the chef instilled in me the idea that nuts should NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES be served without salt. And the wonderful things it does to crème anglaise!

    When I was in college, I was subject to a psychology study where the student performing the study brought samples of chocolate cake around to the dorms, saying it was for a campus-wide recipe contest. He then left each subject alone with an evaluation form.

    The cake was salty, but as I nibbled, I decided I really liked it! The chocolate and salt made a totally new taste experience! Of course, the theory was that the cake was terrible, and people would lie in order not to hurt his feelings. I think I may have learned more that day than the psych student. 🙂

  2. says

    On the salt, as I have stated before probably in your related salt post, Ya just gotta do it. It will even wake up a mundane canned pie filling (shudder the thought of canned, but it can help).

    Fair Maiden, check your Twitter soon as I will Smack you with the Glove once more 😉

  3. says

    Remember that comment about the different types of taste buds? Biological justification for sweet and salty combination? Check! 🙂

    I always used to think it was obnoxious to complain about food at a restaurant, especially when my Mom used to do it regularly. But after doing some foodie reading and having to pay for a lot of my own meals, I realized that it is totally acceptable to suggest something to the server after you’ve eaten it; unless it violates some vegetarian restriction, sending the dish back is still taboo for me. But I have on occasion been a food snob and told the server to tell the chef so-and-so-snobby thing.

    Thanks for the reminder – I shalln’t forget the salt in tomorrow’s pie crust or filling =]

  4. says

    I agree, but I have to of course buy nuts with out salt because I have HB and sodium is my enemy, but the last few days nibbling on cashews with a beer and thinking…something is freaking missing here!

  5. says

    @croquecamille (and to everyone else) Yes! Let this be a lesson unto us all 😀

    @Libby (rubbing jaw) Check in on Monday 🙂

    @Zita A woman after my own heart!

    @Chris I didn’t feel too obnoxious, because I was being nice 🙂 Really, it was so close–just a little salt would have completed that dessert! And, for anyone who hesitates, see what Chris says: there’s a biological justification!

    @Chef E My answer to sodium issues is usually just to drink a lot more water. There is actually a school of thought that HBP might have something to do w/mild dehydration. Run that one past the doctor and see what he has to say 🙂

    @Lisa So happy you stopped by; will be seeing you around, I hope 🙂

    @Donna What can I say–we are a regular Laurel and Hardy show 😆

    @kj If only everyone were so easy, I wouldn’t have to strain my throat, and my fingertips, extolling the virtues of salt! 😆

  6. informalblathering says

    Ever since making those New York Times cookies (the ones with the coarse salt and the 24 hours of rest and the 2 kinds of flour) I have been hooked on salt in desserts. I actually have to get down to the kitchen to work on some salted cupcakes…

  7. says

    Question, Teacher: is there any kind of dessert that you shouldn’t put salt? It seems to run the gamut but I’d hate to be the unfortunate soul who discovers the exception to the rule when I serve dessert to Mr. Noodle’s boss (or other important personages)!

  8. says

    @Tangled Noodle The only thing that I occasionally don’t put salt in is a really tart key lime or passionfruit curd. Pretty much anything else is fair game. Just add a wee pinch to start–with some things, that’s all you need. Example: strawberries w/some sugar and mint or basil in them=yummy; same thing with the addition of maybe 1/8 tsp. salt=Oh-My-God-This-Is-Good 😀

  9. says

    @informalblathering It’s true: once you’ve tasted a well-seasoned dessert, it’s very obvious when salt is missing. Everything just starts to taste bland, bland, bland. Blah!

  10. says

    Yes, water can be a culprit my I also have a heart condition that agitates it and has since I was young, I just deal with it by no salt, and lots of water. I only consume beer or whisky on special occasions, no sodas for me! I would love some of your goodies though!

  11. says

    @Chef E Lots of water seems to be the key! Enjoy your next special occasion 🙂

    @Daily Spud I fear that I repeat myself, but does a zealot only preach on the street corner once? I think not 😉

  12. says

    By the Bones! I whole-stomached’ly approve.

    The Khazars would as well: Ateh dipped her food in “seven different kinds of salt” ere eating.

    Perhaps a bit of salt in the sugar-glaze?

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