Irish whiskey caramel mousse at Crème
Cupcake is topped with Bailey’s-flavored whipped
cream and accented with crunchy honeycomb and
caramel drizzle, $10. 543 28th St., 554-9007.
Tues. – Thurs., 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Fri. – Sat.,
7 a.m. – midnight.
If any new trend is upon us, it’s an era of
stand-alone dessert shops. One restaurant equipment
sales rep recently said he’s never seen anything
like the “fro-yo” (frozen yogurt) craze that
opened in the metro last year which has been
pacing at nearly one new shop a month. A new
fro-yo just opened on the 2300 block of Ingersoll
Boulevard, and another one is working toward
opening on the 2100 block of the same street.
That sales rep explained that the rapid expansion
is encouraged by price markups which exceed
anything else in the industry. One wonders how
long prices can stay high with so much competition
for a market handicapped by its climate half
the year. And how long will people pay gelato
prices for a cheaper product that really isn’t
any healthier when it’s covered with toppings
full of empty calories?
It’s not just fro-yo, though. I wrote earlier
this year about a new candy-and-soft drink store
in Valley West Mall and also about the cupcake
craze. I found that much of the explosion of
“stores” in that latter category were just websites
that took orders and delivered. Notable exceptions
were Bake Shoppe, Carefree Patisserie and Crème
Cupcake, which moved and expanded last month.
In just two years Christine Moffatt grew Crème
from a moonlighting sideline to a new 36-seat
venue just off Ingersoll. Cupcakes are still
her focus, though her menu recently advertised
pies and tarts — whole or by the piece. I have
yet to see any on display, though, and have
been told they are now “for pre-order only.”
Moffat’s cupcakes are built with quality controls.
She says their key ingredient is high-fat butter
that she uses exclusively instead of oil. She
believes that good cake uses vanilla paste,
not just extract, and that frostings should
be made with cream and butter — never any water.
“You don’t want the greasy after-taste that
shortenings like Crisco leave. And don’t put
so much sugar in the frosting that you can’t
taste the flavors,” she adds.
About a dozen flavors ($3) were offered on
a rotating basis. A selection of the equally
impressive Topped Doughnuts was also displayed.
Those are delivered from a rather new shop in
Ankeny that we raved about a year ago.
After 5:30 each afternoon, Crème also brings
something new to town — a dessert bar. It’s
run by Jess Dunn, who learned her trade from
David Baruthio (Baru66). Cocktail pairings are
designed by Blake Brown, recently of Americana.
Savory thyme honey cheesecake ($9) was served
with fresh fruit marmalade and blended creamy
quark with thyme and honey for a bitter sweet
flavor. The suggested pairing of a Bloody Mary
($8), made with fresh juiced tomatoes and spiced
rum as well as the usual culprits, expanded
the flavor profile considerably. An Irish “whisky”
caramel mousse ($10) was topped with Bailey’s-flavored
whipped cream and accented with crunchy honeycomb
and caramel drizzle. It was simply delightful,
(except for insulting Irish customers with the
Scottish spelling of whiskey). A 151-proof rum
with coffee, Kahlua and heavy cream ($8) was
the most complementary suggested pairing I tried.
My favorite dessert was a classic Pavlova ($9)
— lavender meringue baked and served with lemon
cream and fresh berries. Its suggested pairing
was from a universe with denser gravity, bringing
cherries, peaches, balsamic simple and bitter
herbs to a dark vodka party ($10), where the
guests of honor were light and sprite. An almond
flourless torte ($10) delivered ganache-like
chocolate that melted in the mouth. Fried cake
balls presented three different flavors along
with a dip. CV
Dos Rios introduced an infused drink — The
Bertrand Special — to honor State Senator Rick
Bertrand who added the wording about infusing
spirits to a larger bill that finally made the
practice legal in Iowa.