Sweet and Salty Desserts and Snacks
Why do we crave the combo of sweet and salty? Basically, salt enhances and intensifies sweetness. Thank your taste buds for this. And then get cooking on one of these recipes.
You would think there's no way to improve on a scotcheroo (that peanut-buttery, chocolate-y cousin to Rice Krispies treats). But then we added Fritos.
Peanut Butter Chiffon Pie
Peanut butter lovers, rejoice. This pie is so good, and it has a twist: Melba toast replaces graham cracker crumbs for a crisp, salty foil to the decadent filling.
Salted Caramel, Chocolate and Peanut Cracker-Stack Bars
These fantastic potluck bars come from Patrice Hurd of Bemidji, Minnesota. She won the grand prize in a Best of the Midwest® Recipe Contest. Patrice says they're a twist on her grandmother's cracker bars. They cut beautifully and brim with salty-sweet-nutty-chocolately flavor.
Spicy Rosemary-Peanut Caramel Corn
This is caramel corn all grown up-studded with salted peanuts, flecked with rosemary and kissed with cayenne. Make a double batch to pack as gifts, or set a bowl on the coffee table as a way-fun alternative to Chex Mix.
Salty Caramel and Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
These cookies come with a friendly warning: Chewy caramel, toasted pecans and a flurry of sea salt will make you popular. Very popular. A product called caramel bits gives these cookies great flavor and chewy texture. Some supermarkets carry them, and they're widely available online. (Search for Kraft Caramel Bits.) Take care to follow recipe directions when baking: caramel bits melt quickly.
Mindy Segal's Chocolate Chip Cookies
These to-die-for cookies use special chocolate and two kinds of salt, and they call for an overnight chill-and you can absolutely taste the difference. Because of the expense and time involved, we don't recommend them for any old weekend, but they are incredible for a gift or other special occasion. The recipe comes from Chicago chef Mindy Segal's cookbook.
Salted Almond Truffle Tart
One of our testers described this tart's filling as "chocolate butter." We couldn't agree more. It's fantastically rich, with roast-toasty salted almonds in the crust and flaky sea salt on top to balance the sweetness.
Spicy Chip-Chocolate Bark
Sweet? Check. Salty? Check. Spicy? Check. (Well, just a little.) This three-ingredient bark made with chocolate, tortilla chips and chile flakes is a seriously addictive treat.
Sea Salt Caramels
Caramels made in the microwave? Absolutely! And the only gear you need is a candy thermometer. Be sure to use coarse salt so it doesn't melt into the candies.
These addictive sugar-coated soybeans are a protein-packed snack, great for toting to the office.
Lemon Hazelnut Sea Salt Cookies
Many cookies call for just citrus zest, but these soft gems use a lot of juice, too, so they've got the same tart kick as lemon bars. They're a perfect match for hot tea. The recipe comes from The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook (University of Minnesota Press, $29.95).
Maple Pumpkin Pie with Salted Pecan Brittle
The combination of maple and pumpkin flavors make a second slice of this pie hard to resist. Prepare the pecan brittle up to a week ahead, then sprinkle on just before serving.
Cider-Baked Stuffed Apples with Salty Caramel Sauce
Nuts and cranberries fill these simple baked apples that cook in your slow cooker. Top them with Sea Salt Caramel Sauce and, if you like, a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Salted Peanut Bars
Luscious caramel tops a sweet-salty treat of peanuts, pretzels, marshmallow crème and peanut butter.
Caramel and Chocolate Kettle-Corn Crispie Bars
This recipe from Judy Reynolds of Bloomington, Indiana, was the $10,000 winner in our first Best of the Midwest cook-off. Start with a Hoosier staple-popcorn-and stir together these sweet-salty snack bars. Homemade caramel sauce helps makes them a standout.