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Bar Monette’s Vanilla Salt Recipe

Chef Sean MacDonald says he’s always been a champion of using salt of all kinds — often adding more than “what people would normally do” — but in his Santa Monica restaurant Bar Monette, it takes on a sweeter form.

A house-made vanilla salt, with just a hint of sugar, is used to finish a comforting but cheffy apple fritter conceptualized as an ode to his late Aunt Wendy. The salt blend lends a savory edge to the dessert and helps to augment the natural caramel and apple in the fried doughnut, as well as keeping diners on their toes.

“I’m a big advocate of putting finishing salt on desserts just to have little bites,” MacDonald said. “You have a sweet bite and then the next one, you get a little bit of savory, and the next one, you highlight a flavor with a little bit more intensity from the salt.”

The vanilla salt, developed by MacDonald and chef de cuisine Jeff Whittaker, calls for scraping whole vanilla beans, allowing the salt to absorb the flavor and moisture from the seed paste and the pod shells over the course of five days. MacDonald recommends using this vanilla salt for not only fried desserts but also chocolate tortes, cookies or freshly baked cinnamon buns. Once infused, store Bar Monette’s vanilla salt sealed at room temperature for up to two months — if it lasts that long.

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