Tiny Treats Mean Big Business

Cupcakes as trendsetters? It would seem so. While the colorful confections have dominated the growing dessert market, they’ve paved the way for a host of local start-up businesses based on small, whimsical delights.

[cSlider]

Photo courtesy of Chew La La

[slide]

Photo courtesy of Chew La La

[slide]

Mustafa Hussain, of Gville Sweets, sells his handcrafted caramels and chai tea at the downtown farmer’s market. (Photo by Chris Eversole)

[slide]

Photo courtesy of Armadillo Chocolates

[slide]

Photo courtesy of Armadillo Chocolates

[slide]

Jonathan and Jennifer MacAlister launched late-night cookie delivery service Midnight Cookies in 2010, combining her love of baking with his creativity in the kitchen. Flavors include ice cream cone, peanut butter and jelly, and bananas foster. (Photo by Michael Newman)

[/cSlider]

Jennifer Matchett’s home-built business started as a disaster. That only motivated her to become obsessed with the macaron. To get her business off the ground, she baked day and night, experimenting with different ratios of coloring, temperature, baking time, age of egg white, batter consistency and other variations.

She now has perfected everything, from grinding the almonds into flour to making the creams and various fruit spreads that go into the wildly creative (and colorful) mini “sandwiches” that are the “bread and butter” of her business: Chew La La, an online “Parisian” macaron boutique. Flavors range from “simple” Tahitian vanilla to cayenne pepper with dark chocolate ganache.

Chew La La isn’t alone. Armadillo Chocolates has joined the ranks of Gainesville staple Thornebrook Chocolates and become known for custom-made chocolates—with a twist. Or what about the Eastern-influenced caramels with unexpected flavors from Gville Sweets?

It’s not just Gainesville enjoying a tiny sugar rush. According to the National Restaurant Association, the bite-sized dessert category remained in the Top 5 restaurants trends over the past four years. The Food Channel calls this transformative menu trend “OK, Just a Bite.”

Nestleprofessional.com says this is the reason more chains and home-based businesses are creating small dessert options. They say that one bite-sized portion meets an ideal combination of price sensitivity, concern for portion size, holding the line on calories and sugar and just the plain old urge for fun.

Creative Personalization Takes the Cake
Armadillo Chocolates is owned and operated by Natalie Suwanprakorn, who started out working at Volta Coffee, Tea & Chocolate. Suwanprakorn’s product line grew out of her fascination with flavor and her desire to provide artfully and thoughtfully packaged products. Armadillo Chocolate’s Badass Bar, for example, is a chocolate bar filled with Natalie’s signature bourbon, and her peanut butter cups are made with peanut butter chipotle and butter crunch hearts.

These unique flavors reflect a trend of unique flavor combinations that are highly customizable and dictated by the whims of their creator.

Take Mustafa Hussain, for example. After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in architecture, this Gville Sweets owner worked as an architect before he was laid off. He decided to pursue his passion for food instead. He uses Bangladeshi influences (where he lived until age 10) to incorporate ethnic dishes into his handmade salted caramels, with flavors like pistachio, espresso, ginger-honey and more. And he says he still “thinks like an architect” when cooking, baking or designing packages.

Hussain says that in light of the recent economic troubles, professionals have been forced to try something they would not try otherwise. This might include focusing on specializing in certain cuisine and creating a market niche.

Gville Sweets recently created a recipe called “Sandesh.” It combines small white cubes of sweet cheese flavored with cardamom and pistachios, but instead of going into a fermentation process, it is slightly sweetened with sugar and kneaded like dough. Once set, it is sprinkled with crushed pistachio and topped with dried papaya.

Click here to continue reading

Pages: 1 2 3

Related posts