Sweet and salty treats and desserts have been a hot combination for a decade or so, beginning with salted chocolate and salted caramel. There’s science behind it:
Each taste bud contains 50 to 100 taste cells, which respond to a particular flavor: sweet, salty, sour, bitter or umami. The cells have a component called the SGLT1 receptor, which transports sugars into the cells when sodium is present.
This is proffered as an explanation to why sweetness is accentuated by salt: The receptors are activated when salt accompanies sugar.
While the receptor is a new finding, the result has been known for centuries. That’s why there’s a dash of salt (or more) in recipes for cakes, cookies and pies.
Not a peanut butter fan? Check out these Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies.
Ingredients For 16 2-Inch Brownies
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper (or foil), leaving a couple of inches of overhang on two sides to lift out the brownies. Grease the parchment.
2. PLACE the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at half power in 30-second intervals until the butter is melted and the chocolate melts into it when stirred. Combine thoroughly and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. WHISK together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside.
4. ADD the sugar to butter/chocolate mixture and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
5. PLACE the peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 20-30 seconds, or until it can be easily stirred. Add to the chocolate mixture, and mix until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in about 3/4 cup of pretzels, adding any “crumbs” that splintered off during chopping.
6. TRANSFER the batter to the pan and spread evenly. Place the remaining pretzels over the top of the batter, and press them down gently into the batter.
7. BAKE for 40-45 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
8. LIFT the brownies from the pan onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut them into bars.
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