Top 5 dessert trends for 2011--and where to find them

Ice cream gets an Eastern upgrade.

Ice cream gets an Eastern upgrade.

Anytime science and sweets join forces, we know delicious revelations like iPhone dessert apps are on the horizon. As we say goodbye to January, the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) mixes a few nerdy stats with a lot of yummy findings to bring us the Top 5 dessert trends for 2011.
The CCD analyzed desserts using four criteria to determine their popularity this year. Nostalgic treats like jumbo peanut butter cups that stir childhood memories drive trends, while affordable luxuries like Target's macarons are also trendy during tough economic times. No matter the financial crises, Americans love a flavor adventure and the artisanal appeal that couture Chocomize candy bars provide.
We're going to go the extra mile to tell you where to shop to experience these trends and conduct your own sweet research.

[jump] Trend 5: Japanese sweets

According to the CCD, authentic Eastern sweets will become mainstream in the U.S. this year. A perfect example is mochi ice cream. Sweet balls of ice cream are coated with candy-colored rice flour to create a nearly melt-proof treat that can survive the heat of even the most humid summer.

Give the treat a try even before the snow melts by visiting United Noodles, Kim's Oriental Market, and Trader Joe's.
Trend 4: Micro-batch chocolate

The CCD predicts that Americans will embrace artisan chocolate created in small quantities, rather than mass-produced varieties. Consumers will also give special attention to confectioners using socially responsible production methods.

Reach for micro-batch confectioners when you want to give an arty gift. Bold colors, intricate patterns, and unique flavor combos are like air and water for these artisans. Duluth-based chocolate company Peace Love & Chocolate relies on single-source South American chocolate to create their unique flavors. Lavender vanilla, mint, and jasmine ginger are just a few of their unconventional options. Call 218.722.4709 to order.

Trend 3: Olive Oil Desserts

Mochi: Melt-proof ice cream

Mochi: Melt-proof ice cream

Most of us have made the switch to extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in our daily lives, and bakers are joining in on the health-conscious, savory act.

Food Network-turned-Target darling Giada De Laurentiis even devoted an entire episode to her EVOO crush. This almond citrus olive oil cake made her love list.

Trend 2: Pies of every kind

According to the CCD, pies will be the new dessert bully pushing poor, defenseless cupcakes down in the dirt.

In a nod to reinvention, pies will be making their debut in bite-sized and savory variations. They'll even be popping up at pie happy hours around the country. Of course, there's no shortage of pie shops in the Twin Cities. If you need a few suggestions to tide you over until the happy hour trend reaches the Midwest, check out Turtle Bread Company's winter pie menu. Pear cranberry and bourbon pecan are both on our must-try list.

Trend 1: Whoopie Pies

Just when we'd finally convinced Sheela of Cake Eater Bakery to carry whoopie pies on the menu, she leaves the Cities for the greener pastures of a Chicago bakery and takes her whoopie pie recipes with her. Now that the CCD has declared these old-time treats to be the top dessert trend of 2011, we're desperately hoping that another bakery will pick up the banner.

In the meantime, several coastal bakeries are making the treats available to the masses via delivery. Try Isamax Snack's wicked whoopies in mint, banana creme, or peanut butter.

If you know of any local shops carrying whoopies, let us know.