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Why do Salt and Chocolate work so well?

What is it about the combination of chocolate and a touch of salt that delights us as it does? Understandably, it’s not by chance – but there’s an actual science behind it. According to PNAS , salt intensifies the body’s ability to taste the sweetness of the sugar.

 

A research paper states that an intestinal glucose sensor (also found to be located in the sweet-sensitive taste cells) may provide an explanation for another mystery: why just a pinch of table salt tastes sweet, or salt added to baked goods enhances sweet taste. Known as SGLT1, this sensor is a transporter that moves glucose into the sweet taste cell when sodium is present; thus triggering the cell to register sweetness. It’s like a second sugar detector is being signaled that you’re eating something sugary.

 

What actually are taste buds?


Taste buds are the human taste organ. They have between 10-50 sensory cells that are connected to many different nerve fibers, and are found in the
walls and grooves of the papillae (wart-like bumps under the mucous membrane of the tongue). By increasing the surface area of the tongue, the taste buds enable us to experience a more intense sense of flavour. As adults, we have between 2000-4000 taste buds on our tongue and in our oral cavity. From the oral cavity, cranial nerves transmit the perception of taste to the brain stem, where combined with different smell signals, the taste signals are processed.

 

We have 5 basic tastes; salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami, and research has shown that all these tastes interact with each other; sometimes to enhance (salt is known universally as a flavour enhancer), and sometimes to reduce. At low amounts, salt reduces bitterness but increases sweet, sour and umami; thereby enhancing sweetness, as seen in our increasingly popular chocolate and salt combinations.

Also true of a cocktail, it is why that in a Margarita, by adding a little salt, the slight bitterness of the Triple sec is softened, and the taste of the lime juice heightened, whilst it smooths the harshness of the tequila.

 

So; science explained, the rise of the popularity of the use of salt in caramel and chocolate has gained tenfold. Our Lime and Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar and Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate are proven winners in our range; and as we develop more flavours, the emphasis will definitely include salt.

About Lisa Bone

Design & Marketing Associate for Choc affair. I am 22 years old and live in the beautiful city that is York! I love baking and creating new recipes for the Cocoa Corner. My favourite chocolate just has to be the Peach & Raspberry White Chocolate - it's sweet with a hint of fruitiness, and puts me in the mood for summer!