Life After Cupcakes: Five Guesses for What's Next in Baking

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Cupcakes are so last season. Their day in the baking limelight is over. They're cute, they're sweet, they're fun to make, but we're getting kind of bored with the cake and frosting combo. What could replace the simplicity and grabability of the cupcake?

We here at Chow Bella headquarters pored over bakery and dessert menus to find trends in what could be the next hot (or cold) treat to take over the sweets scene. We came up with a few ideas for baking fanatics to try on for size.

The first buzz we heard from baking aficionados centered on brownies. It makes sense, too, because they're small, portable, and there's something for everyone.

You might be thinking about those crazy folks who aren't chocolate enthusiasts, but the brownie's counterpart, the blondie, takes care of that debate. Brownies can be full of toffee, peanut butter chips, or topped with cream cheese like the ones at Bertha's Café. There's just so many ways to mix up this classic confection that we have to give a nod to the dessert.

Next stop on our list brings us to a soon-to-be-open café in Phoenix owned by the Matt's Big Breakfast people. We had a sneak preview of Giant Coffee at the October First Fridays Art Walk. There we found possibly the most adorable and creative treat on the scene. Hello cherry hand-pie. The name pretty much says it all; sweet cherry filling in a tiny personal pie. Boy, we hope this one catches on.

One of the problems with common cupcakes is that they're difficult (if not impossible) to ship to your sweetie in a different state. The solution for long distance dessert sharing is the cookie gram. Nothing is quite like getting an edible bouquet of cookies at your door, and a bakery in Scottsdale called Chocolate Star Bakery is spearheading the movement. Another mover and shaker in the cookie world are those large cookies you can find floating around different cafes and bakeries. They're big, inexpensive, and easy on-the-go.

When we hear the words bread pudding, images of a smushy, nasty mess come to mind. Why? We blame grandmothers everywhere.

However, we found two places putting a new spin on bread pudding. Lola Tapas has an ever-changing dessert menu, but if you're lucky, you'll go on the day chef Felicia Ruiz is serving up the chocolate croissant bread pudding, topped with rich chocolate ganache. For a lighter experience, Bertha's Café offers a ridiculously good banana bread pudding, complete with a light caramel dipping sauce.

Last but certainly not least on our list is the churro. From Fili. B's to Disneyland, the cinnamon-covered delights seem to be a hot commodity. Part of their draw is that they're handheld and completely delicious, but they are a hard sell for dessert elitists. Those sweets snobs should march on over to Barrio Café though and try the classed-up Churros Rellenos de Cajeta de Cabra. If the dessert is true to its eleven-syllable name, it's got to be a mouthful. The fancy goat's milk caramel filled churros are served with vanilla bean ice cream, though they come at a fancy $11 price.

While these are just guesses for what could be next, we feel we've found the pulse of the Southwestern baking world. Now put down that cupcake and try something new already.

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