Here’s Why You Should Add Salt to Your Brownie Pan BEFORE Adding the Batter

updated Oct 23, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Pastry chefs and great-grandmothers have long known the secrets to sweets lie in the use of salt — and in recent years, trends like salted caramel, salted chocolate chip cookies, and pretzel-crusted pies have brought that into the open. But a recent Tweet by an editor at America’s Test Kitchen let all of us in on an extremely important part of the dessert-salting process: when and where the salt goes. 

Salt is a flavor enhancer, so using salt in desserts doesn’t just make them saltier, it enhances the sweetness of the dish — and, in the case of this tweet, the chocolate. “Before she died my great aunt Berta taught me to sprinkle the pan with a little salt before adding the brownie batter,” tweeted Tucker Shaw on Sunday afternoon. “Because the bottoms of the brownies touch your tongue first and the salt there makes them taste more chocolatey.” The tweet clearly struck a chord, quickly racking up hundreds of retweets, thousands of likes, and almost 700 replies. 

The salt on so many desserts — those brownies mentioned above, or a chocolate truffle, for example — is sprinkled on top, so it doesn’t actually hit the tongue until much later in the chewing process. By embedding the salt at the bottom, Berta cheated that process, allowing the salt flavor to hit first and foremost, then letting the rest of the brownie flavor sink in. 

It’s an impressively astute observation — that Berta sounds like she was a smart woman — and one that I’m definitely going to give a try the next time I’m baking brownies. But I also plan to bring this theory into my eating life much sooner: because it sure seems like I could accomplish almost the same thing by simply turning my cookie or brownie over before I start to eat it. Upside-down salted caramel truffles, anyone?