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2012 Baking Trends

Lemon Sunshine Cookie PopsMany of the most important culinary trends begin in restaurant kitchens, where chefs continually invent unexpected flavor combinations and unique presentations. Not surprisingly, their ingenuity and inspiration will continue to influence consumer baking trends in 2012.

Pies

Pie is the next "it" dessert, according to the International Dairy·Deli·Bakery Association's (IDDBA) What's in Store 2012 report. The creative makeover begins on the inside, with artisan fruit fillings and even to savory curry preparations. Look too for "jar" pies, which are baked in variously sized canning jars. "Pies in general are experiencing renewed popularity because they are 'homey' comfort food and can incorporate features such as local fruits," says Virginia Lee, senior research analyst at Euromonitor International, a market-research firm.

Pops

Though cake in its traditional form was rated the most popular bakery item of 2011 by Progressive Grocer's Bakery Review, cake pops are steadily rising in popularity. Haven't heard of cake pops? Think of a miniature spherical cake atop a lollipop stick—the perfect treat for satisfying a sweet tooth on the go. And the pop doesn't stop there: Cookies, brownies, pies and even pudding can easily transform into lollipop-like treats. To experiment in your own kitchen, search our recipe database for "pops."

Minis

Many of us struggle with portion control from time to time, and mini desserts are a simple way to avoid overindulging. (Not to mention the fact that they're delightful to behold!) In past years we've nibbled on mini-brownies and mini-muffins; this year you can expect to see an even wider variety of mini desserts, including mini-tarts with custard fillings, nut crusts, and liqueur flavorings. (You'll find some examples in our recipe database; search for "mini.") Their petite size makes them perfect for dessert "flights"—an array of choices, often with a shared theme, presented for sampling and comparison. Dessert shooters are a fun variation: Instead of a slice of strawberry cheesecake or tiramisu, try spooning the dessert into shot glasses, perhaps with a layer of caramel, fudge sauce, or ice cream.

Sweet, Salty, Spicy, and Tart

What is it about sweets that leave us craving something salty? According to Yale University School of Medicine's Dr. David Katz, an authority on nutrition and chronic disease prevention, this craving is known as "sensory-specific satiety." Translation: filling up on sweets leaves you feeling full of sweets—but not of other flavors. One solution is to satisfy multiple cravings at once, with, say, Potato Chip Cookies or Chocolate Chipotle Brownies. Adventurous chefs are going even further with creations like baby back rib cupcakes and bacon-and-chili-pepper ice cream. In theory, at least, these desserts provide greater satiety (satisfaction and fullness), which ultimately discourages overeating. (For more ideas about combining sweetness with other flavors, see our Spring 2009 newsletter, "When Sugar Met Salt.")

Artisan Ice Cream

Think beyond vanilla and chocolate—way beyond. "This year, savory and custom-made ice cream flavors are going to explode," says hospitality consultant Andrew Freeman of AF&Co., who adds that chefs in New York and California are already playing with creations such as "autumn pear ice cream with licorice sabayon." And don't be surprised to find unconventional spices and ingredients such as tarragon, olive oil, or bacon in your next scoop. The innovation carries over into textures, too: Cake and pie are now making their way into milkshakes. If you're inspired to try your own ice-cream concoction, start with something basic like French Vanilla Ice Cream, then get creative with Cuban Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce. Or invent your own flavor and let us know about it!

Retro

Cupcakes, layer cakes, pies, brownies, whoopie pies: our taste for nostalgic desserts shows no sign of tapering off. But while the concepts may be classic, the interpretations are contemporary. Cupcakes are mounted on sticks, flavored with savory ingredients, and deconstructed into cupcake fondue. Pies feature unusual fruits such as persimmon; they shrink to single-person size and are crumbled into milkshakes. As long as chefs bring imagination to the kitchen, these iconic originals will stay fresh and appealing to new generations.

Now it's your turn

We talked to professionals for this roundup, but the new trends are accessible to everyday bakers, too. Why not resolve to try a new twist in 2012? Domino is here to provide inspiration, support, and sensational recipe ideas for the new year.

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