SALTED caramel was the hit flavour of 2010, and six years on it shows no sign of its influence abating.
That the appeal of this sweet-savoury combination goes across age groups, ethnicities and food preferences tells us much about why it is so loved. Unlike so many flavours whose popularity is the product of personal preference or temporary fascination, the dash of salt to complex sweet dishes relies on its ability to affect our sense of seasoning.
Most of the world’s tastes are in fact aromas, detected by the epithelium, a small finger-sized patch in the rear of the nose. As you inhale, the scent passes over and is interpreted by the fine receptors.
On the tongue, however, you have tastebuds, little bumps with a range of capacities. They can detect sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami (savouriness), piquancy, pepperiness, chilli, fat, temperature and texture. Any one of those qualities can attach itself to the principal flavour detected in the nose. As such we can identify lemons in the nose, then the tongue tells us that they are sour. The nose says strawbe strawberries, the tongue says swe sweet. The nose says beer, the tongue says bitter. Really understanding flavour means using the interpla interplay between these two organs. Salted caramel works because the burnt sugar is aromati aromatic and rich, with a distinct distinctly sweet mouth-feel. Addin Adding a pinch of salt trigg triggers a second adj adjectival response in th the mouth, doubling th the perceived idea of it its taste. Of course, that e effect can work in other sweet foods too. Salted chocolate, s salted lemon curd, sa salted jams. All these ar are effective uses of the same culinary prin principle. Sa Salted caramel was not ju just something delicio delicious, it was a key lesson i in how to make flavour more effective.
Most of the world’s tastes are in fact aromas