Now Trending: Alcohol-Infused Desserts

By Carlynn Woolsey, Foodable Contributor

We live in a fast-paced world (an understatement to say the least), where the phrase “killing two birds with one stone” has trickled into almost every area of our lives. Believe it or not, it applies to a trend showing up on the restaurant scene, too. Chefs nationwide are combining desserts and drinks to make for some super special — and convenient — creations.

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Foodable WebTV Network

New & Improved

Incorporating alcohol into desserts is obviously not a new concept altogether, given the popularity of classic treats like Bananas Foster and Tiramisu, but what chefs are doing now is finding unique ways to incorporate boozy flavors into everything from cakes and cookies to ice cream and popsicles. Alcohol is a flavor enhancer, and also provides a way to take nostalgic desserts and make them a little sexier. 

Blame It on the Cupcakes  

As the cupcake craze ensued and bakers were trying to stay one step ahead of the game with bigger and bolder flavors, alcohol became a go-to ingredient, and one that consumers loved! Judges on the Food Network series “Cupcake Wars” loved it too, with Sticky Fingers Bakery winning a $10,000 prize for creating a ginger cupcake filled with brandy-peach filling and a chocolate cinnamon cupcake filled with bourbon caramel, topped with bourbon vanilla frosting, as a part of the competition. Soon, entire bakeries emerged dedicated to boozy confections. At the aptly named Crunkcakes in Washington, D.C., you can find cocktail-based cupcakes like the Lemon Drop and Nutty Irishman, while Prohibition Bakery in New York City is serving up Dark & Stormy, Piña Colada, and Sangria versions.

Low Alcohol, High Indulgence

Aside from the fact that these desserts sound (and taste, of course) delicious, what makes them so appealing? The fact that having a dessert that technically includes [a hint of] a drink, too, is a way of indulging without going all-in. This notion also plays off of the low-alcohol cocktail trend sweeping the country, with diners looking for “just a taste” (or a “sip,” depending on how you look at it) without the hangover the next day. Unfortunately for the more health-conscious crowd, the calorie count still stands!

Foodable WebTV Network

Foodable WebTV Network

Drunken Examples

If you are interested in ordering one of these desserts firsthand, then Manhattan is the place to be. Some of the city’s top chefs are turning out drool-worthy, drunken treats. At his Upper East Side eatery Town House, David Burke plates up Warm Drunken Donuts, which customers can fill with their choice of Chocolate Baileys, Strawberry Daiquiri, and Salted Caramel sauces. Meanwhile, David Chang and Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar mix up Fancy Shakes, spiked with liqueurs like Frangelico – for the Fancy Espresso and Kahlua combined with vodka for the Cereal Milk White Russian.

Can’t make the trek to New York City, but want to try the trend? How about adding alcohol to homemade simple syrup in place of water? Combine 1 cup of sugar with ½ cup water and ½ cup of your favorite spirit (bourbon and rum are both excellent choices!) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved into the liquid, remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Drizzle it over cake, fresh fruit, ice cream, or make like Momofuku and blend it with a milkshake!