Back in 2013, Dominique Ansel was just another New York baker slinging macarons on Spring Street. Then he started selling the croissant-doughnut hybrid known as the Cronut™, and the age of Dessert Mashups began in earnest. These days, you can’t open a dessert menu without finding “Frankenpastries” like Tiramisu Brownies, Oreo Churros or S’mores-Stuffed Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats.
Just when it seemed as though there couldn’t possibly be another permutation on the trend, enterprising chefs began reaching behind the bar and adding generous splashes of booze to their sweets, creating tipsy treats that please all customers (or at least those over 21). It’s a trend that seems to be growing: according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor database, alcohol mentions in baked goods has grown by 12.5 percent in full-service restaurant menus.
Artisanal ice cream meets the modern cocktail
Melissa Tavss is the founder of Tipsy Scoop, a brand of liquor-infused ice cream sold in stores throughout New York and shipped nationwide. You might say ice cream runs in her blood—her Italian ancestors brought ice cream to Scotland in the 1800s. “Following in the family’s ice cream tradition, I began to experiment with putting a modern boozy twist on it,” she says. “Dessert and booze go better together than people traditionally think, and freezing doesn’t affect the alcohol content, so our ice creams are up to 5 percent alcohol.” Her best seller is Dark Chocolate, Whiskey and Salted Caramel. “Guys especially like those flavors,” she says. “It plays like an after-dinner drink and dessert pairing. Even though it’s ice cream, it warms you up.” Tavss also caters in the New York area for weddings and other events. “We provide a great ‘wow!’ factor, especially as a late-night treat.”
Tiny cupcakes pack a boozy wallop
Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siema are the co-founders of Prohibition Bakery, which they say is New York City’s original alcoholic cupcake company. Their website describes them as “a lifelong baker and long-time bartender who have gotten many highly regarded New Yorkers extremely drunk.”
“We’re combining two of New York’s favorite things: teeny-tiny desserts and alcohol,” says Feinberg. “It’s a familiar concept with a modern update. These are treats we all remember from childhood, but now they’re all grown up.” The bakery’s best-seller is the Pretzels & Beer cupcake, made with Six Point Sweet Action Ale and garnished with a pretzel. The Dark & Stormy, based on the national drink of Bermuda, is a spicy ginger cupcake made with Gosling’s Rum, ginger beer and lime. Also popular are Mexican Hot Chocolate RumDrops, made with mezcal, chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne.
Words of advice
For those who want to try booze-dessert combinations in their own operations, Feinberg has some suggestions. “Be wary of what you can complete. When we started out, we had a lot of ideas that seemed fine in concept, but weren’t very good in reality. Our original concept for the bakery was cakes and large cupcakes, and we found that we’d really been trying to do too much and making it harder on ourselves. People just wanted something small, so that’s our focus now.” Another point to consider: “Be aware of laws and regulations in your area regarding alcohol sales and food. You may have a great idea, but you need to make sure you can legally sell it.”
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