It might have been the Tasting Table article with chef Michael Anthony and the Salted Chocolate Rye Cookies (really?) that finally pushed the Accidental Locavore over the edge. Chocolate is a wonderful thing on its own. Ditto salt. And while they both play well with others, there are times when letting them be a solo act is so much more appealing.
These days it’s rare to find anything caramel that doesn’t have the word salted preceding it, but Dorie Greenspan dared to have a caramel tart in her new book Baking Chez Moi which I made (to great acclaim) for Thanksgiving. While anything Dorie bakes is usually great, this recipe was especially appealing because the caramel wasn’t salted (nor was there a garnish of some expensive hand-picked and tweezer-placed sea salt). The chocolate that coated the crust was simply chocolate. It made a fabulous tart, and as much as I don’t usually bake, this may make it into my dessert rotation.
Speaking of chocolate, why can’t it be left alone? My mother has always had the unfortunate habit of adding coffee to her otherwise fabulous chocolate sauce*. And she’s not the only one. Try browsing through a selection of chocolate bars, from bacon to chipotle and beyond, and each has a flavor usually associated with savory foods. Sorry, but I don’t want my chocolate to taste like breakfast, lunch or dinner! That’s why when I made Nancy’s cookies I left the coffee out and they were amazing!
There are times when a little chocolate adds an interesting layer of flavor to savory foods. Mole comes immediately to mind (as does the unforgettable odor of roasting chocolate, custom blended at the market in Oaxaca). I’ve added it to coq au vin and when I remember, to short ribs or beef stews.
A small bit of salt does bring out the flavor of sweet foods, but the idea that salt now needs to be a major player in every dessert has long ago jumped the shark. While an occasional chocolate, salted caramel ________ is a treat, how about if we save the sea salt for what it’s best for, garnishing that perfect tomato in August?
*Sorry Mom, but you know the coffee thing makes me crazy