Pop goes the Cake

Cake pops and multi-layered shot glass desserts are the new attractions of the sweet platter

A monkey sits atop a lollypop stick, looking good enough to eat. Sink your teeth into this tiny, edible animal figure and a burst of chocolate instantly fills your mouth. The top layer of crisp chocolate gives way to chocolate cake — a heady combination of chewy and gooey. This bite-sized dessert, called cake pop, is expected to be the next big trend in the country's foodscape.

The past year has witnessed an evolution in the dessert scene of India. Cupcakes, for instance, have emerged as a sweet favourite with many foodies. As the countdown to the new year begins, cake pops seem poised to topple over cupcakes, with a number of confectioners and dessert shops planning to include it in their menu.

Cake pops are essentially cake, crumbled and bound by frosting before being moulded into various shapes, decorated with icing or frosting and placed on top of a lollypop stick. "The draw of cake pops lies in the novelty of their form — they are as handy as a lollypop but can be customised in terms of the cake base as well as frosting and other topping flavours," explains chef Ajay Chopra of The Westin Mumbai Garden City, Goregaon East. He adds that the dessert appeals not only to kids but also grown-ups.

Cake pops may have been a recent addition to the country's dessert menu, but the trend is an international one, with roots in the US. The credit for the creation goes to Atlanta-based Angie Dudley. Four years ago, the graphic designer — with a passion for baking — used cake crumbs to put together a cake pop and uploaded the recipe on her blog. The creation went viral and she was invited on a food show. Soon after, several confectioners, home-bakers and even food chains started to sell the dessert even as people lapped it up.

Amal Farooque of Sugar Overdose in Santa Cruz East, Mumbai,which stocks cake pops, says, "A major factor that contributes to the popularity of cake pops is the packaging. It mostly comes wrapped in cellophane and are handy enough to carry in a handbag as a snack."

The dessert is popular at theme birthday parties since it can be moulded into any shape and decorated with frosting of varying colours. The size, says Ayushi Shah of Icing On Top in Byculla, Mumbai, plays a role too. "Everyone is health conscious. And while foodies can rarely resist desserts, they prefer to have it in small portions. That is where cake pops score," she explains.

This trend of bite-sized desserts, usually priced between Rs 25 and Rs 80, has also allowed another variety to slowly gain patrons — shot glass desserts. Multiple layers of desserts stacked up in a tiny shot glass, this variety has been part of five-star dining buffets for years. But now, the shot glasses are no more the prerogative of the fine dining scene with confectioners experimenting with flavours. Chef Chopra explains that shot glasses were first introduced as a novel way of presenting a dessert that has multiple layers.

"Too many layers — of cake, cheesecake, cream, fruit, compote and so on — can make a dessert cumbersome. Shot glasses allow these layers to be showed off but are easy to handle for the confectioner as well as patrons," he says.

However, to Shah, these present an opportunity to experiment with textures and layers. "I can combine a dessert of a very Indian flavour, like mango cheesecake, with chocolate, cake and some spices, without having to bake a bigger portion that people may be too scared to try. Shot glasses are perfect for that purpose. Priced at a fraction of a whole cake or even a pastry of the same nature, they help satisfy my creative urges and give people the opportunity to try out a variety," she says.

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