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The New England Dessert Showcase

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Dessert can be plain or fancy; sweet, tart or savory; hot, warm or cold. The 2010 New England Dessert Showcase gave us the opportunity to taste a wide spectrum of desserts from local chocolatiers, bakeries, restaurants and ice cream makers. On Saturday September 18, 2010 over two dozen dessert purveyors offered samples of their desserts at the Copley Westin Hotel, to dessert savvy Bostonians.

For those attendees planning a wedding the showcase proved to be a terrific place to learn about bakeries whose repertoire includes wedding cakes. There were over half a dozen bakeries represented at the show. Of those, three: Cakeology, Treat Cupcake Bar and Kickass Cupcakes specialize in – you guessed it -- cupcakes. Of the three, Kickass cupcakes is probably the best known, and Treat Cupcake Bar has the most unique concept offering ready-made cupcakes along with cupcakes made your way. The latter means you get to select a cupcake, frosting and toppings resulting in a custom cupcake created just for you. Are cupcakes hot? You bet, both Kickass Cupcakes and Treat were out of samples by the time I reached each of their tables.

You can make a cake completely out of cupcakes but if your taste runs to "real" cake be it traditional or funky, there were plenty of bakeries up for the job. Keyks not only creates traditional baked goods and cakes, they also create custom cakes and Filipino baked goods. O'Sugar Cakery creates custom cakes for the residents of Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. They also make cake pops and specialty cupcakes which can be shipped anywhere in the US. I did see samples of the kind of fun cakes these bakeries can make but sadly there were no samples to be had by mid afternoon. I did get a sample from Cakes Milton which I enjoyed. Their table displayed treats for Halloween, including several Halloween themed cakes. If you're looking for an exceptionally elegant cake to celebrate a special occasion or wedding then Konditor Meister should be on your short list of bakeries to check out. In addition to their beautiful cakes they also make gourmet desserts including Apple Strudel and Linzer Tarte; five different kinds of cheesecake, a selection of petits French pastries, chocolate dipped strawberries, cookies, and a selection of pies. Another bakery at the Showcase was Harvard Sweet Boutique. Located in Harvard Massachusetts, the Harvard Sweet Boutique is an on-line baking company offering made-to-order gift boxes of cookies, toffee, brownies, bars and truffles. With Christmas just around the corner, this is a web site you'll want to bookmark. I sampled a chocolate mint bar on Saturday, and at another event had their cookies. Wanna send me a gift? I'll take these any day.

If you're looking for a bakery/cafe that offers something other than cupcakes then consider Japonaise a French Japanese fusion bakery. With four locations they serve Brookline, Cambridge, Boston and Somerville, offering a variety of breads, pastries and cakes. At the NE Dessert Showcase they were sampling their strawberry shortcake and azuki cream pastry. Finale a well known dessert spot in Boston was also well represented at the Showcase. Not only did they bake the official New England Showcase cake, but they were also offering samples of their delicious flourless chocolate cake.

When thinking of ice cream do cows come to mind? Apparently they did for the two ice cream companies at the New England Dessert Showcase: The Chilly Cow and The Brewer's Cow; but that's where the similarity ends. The Chilly Cow located in Arlington offers frozen custard in a variety of flavors along with frozen custard pies which can also be purchased in stores in northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. I've tried several of their flavors in the past and they will make any ice cream lover happy. The Brewer's Cow on the other hand makes premium ice cream infused with beer. They currently offer seven varieties of beer ice cream using Stout, Double Boch and Scottish Ale. Their ice cream is available in restaurants and pubs, and The Brewer's Cow can bring their cart to your event. Don't assume that because you like beer you'll like beer ice cream. This is an acquired taste. Me - I'll take my beer in a frosty mug.

Should you want chocolate for dessert, breakfast, lunch, whenever, then Vianne Chocolatwill be happy to satisfy your craving. Vianne makes handmade artisanal chocolates infused with herbs, spices, liqueurs, fruits, and more. You can find their chocolates on-line, at Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet, Melrose, MA, and at various events in the Boston area.

Although not strictly dessert, several exhibitors offered products that can be used to create desserts or can be eaten as snacks. Yvette Taylor of Queen of the Pantry provides personal chef services as well as spicy nut products that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes as a topping or as a coating in place of bread crumbs. For kids of all ages, the lollipops made by the Strawberry Hill Confectionary are sure to please. These lollipops are organic and come in a variety of shapes, colors and flavors. Last in this category is the Budi Bar a small chocolate nut bar that packs a punch not only in nutrition, but also in flavor. The Budi Bar aims to satisfy your appetite, relax you, and increase your focus and attention. The Budi Bar is formulated using green tea extract, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut, dark chocolate and macadamia nuts. Although you may be unfamiliar with the nutritional science behind the Budi Bar, or skeptical of the results, one thing is certain - they are yummy, and at 160 calories per bar easy to fit into your daily diet.

The last category of exhibitors at the New England Dessert Showcase were restaurants eager to show off the wares of their pastry chefs in the hope that you will not only have dessert with them, but dinner as well. Tommy Choi the pastry chef at Top of the Hub offered attendees samples of his chocolate ginger mousse with mango tapioca sauce - delish. The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant with several locations in the Greater Boston Area. I enjoyed their sample plate of chocolate fondue. It included a strawberry, marshmallow and rice krispie cube dipped in yummy dark chocolate. I've linked to the Melting Pot in the Back Bay. To find others you'll have to use Open Table because the locator on the Melting Pot website doesn't seem to think there are any in Massachusetts. Also offering a decadent chocolate dessert was the Chart House. Theirs was a hot chocolate lava cake.

Other features of the Showcase were "cooking" demonstrations by several exhibitors, and the largest Boston Cream Pie baked by members of the culinary program at Southern New Hampshire University.

My favorite dessert is ice cream, what’s your favorite dessert? Let me know by entering a comment below, and for pictures of the Showcase check out the accompanying slide show.

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