It’s time to get salty about your sweets

 

Years ago, when Jimmy Fallon was on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream came out with a flavor called “Late Night Snack,” which was inspired by the show.

The combination was “vanilla bean ice cream with a salty caramel swirl and fudge-covered potato chip clusters.”

Being slightly ice cream obsessed, I tried it out, despite the seemingly weird combination, but it was amazing.

I thought about that ice cream recently when I ran across this week’s recipe, and it got me to thinking about that flavor combination. Why is it that sweet and salty go together so well?

So, of course, I looked it up and found a great article from Debra Ronca at “How Stuff Works.”

“Salt isn’t just a nutrient, either,” she writes. “It’s a flavor enhancer. So, it stands to reason that if you mix sugar and salt, the salt enhances the sugar flavor. Chefs call this flavor layering, and the right mix—not too sweet and not too salty—gives your brain a positive biological response.”

If you’re like me and love the combination of sweet and salty, you’re not weird—it’s science. And, if you’re in my camp, then you definitely want to try the cookies I made this week.

This recipe comes from the blog “Two Peas and Their Pod.” You can find the original at https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/salted-caramel-pretzel-chocolate-chip-cookies. I added a little extra vanilla in my version.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1-1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt or sea salt

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup pretzels, chopped

about 11 ounces chewy caramels

about 36 pretzel twists, whole

coarse salt for sprinkling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth, and then beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped pretzels.

Scoop the dough in about two tablespoon scoops and place a caramel piece in the center of each scoop, forming the dough completely around the caramel. (Cut your caramels into about half-inch pieces if they’re the long kind.)

Place the dough onto the baking sheet, spacing them about two inches apart and press a whole pretzel into the top of each cookie and sprinkle each lightly with salt.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Let the cookies cool until they are set up enough to remove from the baking sheet and transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. (Some of mine were oozing caramel, so I cooled them upside down.)

Store cookies in an airtight container.

Holy moly were these good. They did take quite awhile to set up, and even though I thought I had the caramel very well covered by the dough, it still leaked out of the bottom of almost all of the cookies a bit, so be prepared when you start removing them from the baking sheet.

I had to take these to the office, because Joey and I were going to demolish the whole batch by ourselves if I didn’t. We still ate an embarrassingly large number of them.

As much as people looked at me strangely when I talked about potato chips in ice cream, I still had quite a few takers for these cookies, so maybe times have changed, or maybe there are a lot more secret lovers of salt and sugar than I thought.

Spice Up Your Life is sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton. Find them at shopmainstco.com. Lindsey Young is an enthusiastic amateur cook and can be reached through her website at spiceupkitchen.net.