The Next Evolution of Dessert?

Americans love dessert. After all, we all want flat tummies -- but not nearly as much as we want that bread pudding. Here in Houston we've got several exceptional pastry chefs who showcase their skills at various restaurants around town, but what about specialized dessert shops?

At one time ice cream was king, and then we met frozen yogurt. Some ice cream shops added it to their repertoires; many shops sell it exclusively. We have Amy's, the Marble Slab, Baskin-Robbins, Berripop, Tasti D-Lite, and Swirll. Of course, ice cream is the traditionalist's favorite treat, and we'll always have a market for it here.

Cupcakeries have dominated the Houston marketplace in recent years... Just when you think they're passé, a new storefront or cupcake cart emerges. Test 'em one, and test 'em all -- Among *several* others, we've got Crave and Sprinkles, Ohh La La and Sugarbabies, Celebrity Cupcakes and Sweet Spot, plus two cupcake trucks in What's Up Cupcake and Frosted Betty. This isn't to say I don't like cupcakes -- what's not to like about a personal cake piled high with pink sugary frosting that makes you feel like a princess -- but I do wonder when the cupcake's Dessert Dictatorship will end. And what will take its spot...

Ice cream parlors have become somewhat antiquated as dessert shops get more and more specialized. We have the Chocolate Bar and the Dessert Gallery, but neither seem really that inspired; oftentimes the cookies and cakes go beyond rich, falling well into the overly decadent category. For this reason, I've started to enjoy specialty dessert shops: places that choose a single dessert and offer it in various iterations.

San Francisco and New York, for example, have pioneered the rice pudding bar, small storefronts with an array of awesomely flavored rice puddings. Traipsing around Colorado this summer I found the Bundt Shoppe, which sells bundt cakes of various size and flavor. Washington DC now has the Cereal Bar, a carb heaven for those of us that think cereal is an ideal complement to any meal. And several cities around the U.S. have stores dedicated to heavenly, heavenly cream puffs.

Could any of these concepts work in Houston?

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Ruthie Johnson
Contact: Ruthie Johnson