This simple addition will make your homemade cookies sweeter
Scientifically, salt intensifies the taste of sugar, according to PNAS. The salt acts as a sugar detector, supplementing the caramelized sugars in the cookies. According to Cooks Illustrated, adding salt as the ultimate cookie topping allows for a quick, concentrated taste that your tongue instantly detects. Salt gradually infuses cold foods like refrigerated dough, so adding an extra pinch at the end enhances the flavors already inside the cookies, working your taste buds from every angle.
This does not mean that the salt should only be used after the dough. According to Fine Cooking, salt also enhances the cookie from the inside out. Salt builds protein when added to a dough, creating the desired chewy texture. Chef J. Kenji López-Alt says the cookies require more salt than expected; he uses regular salt to make cookie dough and later presses sea salt into the baked product, via Serious Eats.
López-Alt and Allen both recommend sprinkling on coarse salt, although other recipes call for the addition of fine sea salt. Like sugar, which comes in powder, dark brown, light brown, and granular forms, salt comes in the form of kosher, table, and sea salt, among others, each with their unique purposes. It’s up to you what you want on your cookies, but you won’t need more than a pinch to take your next baking adventure from good to unforgettable.