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Sweet things in moderation

mini dessert selection

On retail shelves, portion-controlled snack packs have become a go-to for calorie counters. The latest generation of “smart-sized” snacks are labeled with words such as “thin” and “bite-sized.” Krispy Kreme’s Coffee Thins are described as a “revolutionary, edible coffee treat” that infuses the doughnut chain’s coffee into Caramel Macchiato, Original Glazed and Cappuccino chocolate thins.

Over the years, portion control has influenced some restaurant dessert menus as well, where mini cupcakes and bite-sized ice cream sandwiches appeal to diners who want to indulge without going overboard.

Shrinking the classics

In some cases, pastry chefs are trimming the size of well-loved classics, like the brownie bites offered at chains such as Au Bon Pain, Applebee’s and Bob Evans. At Moxy in Portsmouth, N.H., whoopie pies are made small in the form of sliders and offered with chocolate dipping sauce. Olive Garden’s “Dolcini” menu includes cup-sized versions of cream-based desserts, including Chocolate Mousse, Amaretto Tiramisu, Strawberry & White Chocolate Cake, Limoncello Mousse and Dark Chocolate Caramel Cream.

At CREAM, an acronym for “Cookies Rule Everything Around Me,” ice cream sandwiches are the star, and mini-sized versions invite customers to try even more of the spot’s 20 ice cream flavors, 16 cookie flavors and 18-plus toppings in different combinations. Also in the ice cream realm, both CREAM and Ben & Jerry’s stores offer ice cream tacos, turning a classic portable street food into a modestly sized treat.

Mini by design

Other desserts are designed with bite-sizing in mind. At Max Brenner, a place where chocolate overload is the norm, Tasting of Bonbons is a way to cut back the scale but still provide an exquisite tasting experience. Similarly, at growing full-service chain Fig & Olive, diners looking for sweet moderation can choose a tasting of four bite-sized versions of Amarena Cherry Crostini, Chocolate Pot de Creme, Crunchy Praline or Strawberry Vacherinan. For an even smaller treat, diners can opt for a cup of coffee or tea paired with a praline and one other bite-sized dessert.

Portable portions

Other kinds of mini dessert are built with portability in mind, and many have developed as a part of coffee culture. To shave some calories off its blended drinks, Starbucks developed Mini Frappuccinos, which have a calorie count under 150. The coffee giant continues to straddle the line between drink and food with new frozen granitas that top lightly sweetened, finely shaved ice with tea, coffee and lemonade. For more serious snackers, Starbucks developed two cup-sized trifles that layer brownie bites or Petite Vanilla Bean Scones with whipped cream and syrup drizzles.

“Snacking occasions are almost rituals when done in the French tradition, whereas snacking in the states happens throughout the day and on the go,” notes Larry Sidoti, chief development officer at Paris Baguette, a French-Asian bakery concept specializing in lighter meals and modestly sized, not-too-sweet pastries.

Fortunately, the concept’s fruit-topped pastry bites, sweet-stuffed rolls and mini croissants work well for Americans’ grab-and-go snacking style. As the concept grows in the states, locations with plenty of walk-by traffic will help cater to snackers who want a little bite at any time throughout the day.

This post is sponsored by Sweet Street Desserts

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