What’s sweeter than our favorite store-bought sweet treats? Artisanal sweets and desserts! There is something about a product that’s artisanal that excites us. Maybe it is about the things associated with artisanal that excite us like the level of care to detail and craftsmanship, or maybe because it is sold in limited supply, or maybe because it is unique compared to store-bought products.
Artisanal sweets and desserts Trivia
- The first-ever recipe for a chocolate cake was printed in 1847. It was written by Eliza Leslie and published in the recipe book The Lady’s Receipt Book
- The first apple pie recipe was published in 1381 in England.
- The popsicle was initially known as a frozen drink on a stick and the first-ever popsicle flavor is cherry.
- You’d think ice cream is a modern dessert but ice cream actually dates back to the 4th century BC. Roman emperor Nero and China’s King Tang enjoyed a dessert that could very well be the predecessor of modern-day ice cream.
- Chocolate chip cookies were originally called Toll House Crunch Cookie.
- The earliest definition of a cupcake is a light cake in small cups.
Artisanal sweets and desserts Buying Guide
Consumers will identify vendors as artisanal based on two things: to those who are well-informed in the nuances of what makes a product artisanal, the characteristics of the business and production will be used to know if the product or the business is artisanal or not. For others, they will simply rely on the business name, and thankfully, many artisanal businesses in Texas making sweets and desserts have a name that makes the claim.
But how would you know if a business is artisanal/artisan if it doesn’t say so on the marquee or signage? An article written by Michigan State University’s Randy Bell in 2013 pointed out that there is nothing cast in stone when it comes to drawing the line between what is artisanal and what is not. Some joined the bandwagon and started calling themselves artisans (and their product, artisanal), while others, despite the artisanal nature of their business, simply didn’t want to use the words artisan or artisanal for modesty’s sake, or probably to avoid being associated with fake artisanal businesses.
Here are some of the qualities of an artisan business and artisanal products.
Manual labor and traditional practices. The first characteristic of an artisanal enterprise is the production of food by manual means or traditional method (like how Skyline Gelato in Comfort is still making gelato the traditional way) compared to the industrial mass production of food. This is why you will see artisanal businesses describing their products as “handcrafted” or “craft”. This is also why you’ll encounter artisanal shops describing themselves as “boutique” stores. An example is Sugareto in Cypress, which considers itself a boutique bakery.
Creativity. Associated with manual labor is the artisan’s careful attention to detail and the meticulous preparation and methodology which results in a product that is distinctly different from food produced via the modern industrial production system. In the case of Cacao & Cardamom Chocolatier, handcrafting sweets and desserts also include hand-painting these individually, and for Brad Heavenly Creations in Arlington, it is making hand-popped kettle corn. Artisanal means creativity in method, experimenting, and exploring possibilities unexplored by commercial, store-bought products.
Even though artisans observe traditional practices, they are not tied down by them. On the contrary, their knowledge about making food the traditional way is often the take-off point for new and creative creations. Thus, an artisanal product can be unique or one-of-a-kind in the local market. Artisanal is being inspired by tradition and doing something inspired as a result, like how the owners of T’s Southern Pound Cakes are giving southern favorites a new, imaginative twist. Or like how Gold Pops Ice Cream in Arlington gave Texas its first-ever fried ice cream on a stick. Or how Mallow Box in Plano explored the possibilities of marshmallows to create a menu of gourmet marshmallow treats!
Melting pot. Artisanal could also mean bringing foreign techniques somewhere new to introduce them to a new crowd or new group of consumers. In the case of Araya Artisan Chocolate in Houston, artisanal is using French and Belgian techniques in making chocolates for the benefit of chocolate lovers in Houston. There is also bringing the traditional Indian cuisine in Texas courtesy of Madhu Chocolate in Windsor Park. Bre’s Sweet Treats in Fort Worth brought Hawaii’s happy cake to Texas, while Sombrero Pops is making the best Mexican premium ice pops in Frisco.
Quality. Artisan businesses and artisanal products are, more often than not, a notch higher compared to commercially-produced, store-bought food, in terms of taste, quality, and creativity. Hungry Hippo Ice Cream & Treats believes that their artisanal ice cream is better than store-bought ice cream.
Made-to-order with fresh ingredients. Artisanal sweets and desserts are often created made-to-order or in small batches (like Salt and Sugar Texas in Katy, Dripping Springs Chocolate Co. in Dripping Springs, and OMG Squee in Govalle) or custom-made, like what Mac’s Brittle in Georgetown offers interested customers. Mass-produced store-bought food products are made in big batches, designed to stay on the shelf for a long time. Artisanal means your order is not made ahead of time and made to wait in the display cabinet waiting for someone to order. Dough Boy Donuts in Fort Worth, for example, doesn’t do things like that. Instead, they make sure they dress donuts only when someone orders them. More importantly, they are made to turn in a profit, which impacts the ability of these foods to match artisanal food made from scratch every day.
Fresh and locally sourced. Artisanal foods also pride themselves on being made from fresh ingredients sourced locally. They are the better option because artisanal foods are often made without any preservatives or artificial ingredients common in mass-produced store-bought foods. For example, the sweet treats at Callies Corner Bakery and Pop’topia Pops in New Braunfels are made only from the freshest, local ingredients. Because of these things, it is common for consumers to associate artisanal food with superior taste whereas grocery or supermarket mass-produced food is oftentimes plain, common, and ordinary-tasting.
And because it is locally sourced, it is common for many artisanal foods to be seasonal, especially for food containing fruits or vegetables that are not grown and harvested all year long. For example, the flavors of Chelles Macarons in Plano are seasonal, available depending on which fruit or vegetable is in season. The same with the flavors of the sweet treats from Dolce Neve.
Setup. Artisanal sweets and desserts often are more of a passion project (of one person, a group of friends, or a family) rather than a purely for-profit enterprise. This is why it is not surprising that artisanal businesses are usually small in size, like Cupcake Gallery By Christina in Allen, Ruthi Hutson Cakes in McKinney, and Texas Teasecakes in Irving, which are all home baking businesses. This is why you will see artisanal businesses using the words “small”, “family-owned”, and “cottage” to describe their business. Artisanal is oftentimes associated with small business operations (like the mobile pie shop Cross My Heart & Hope for Pie in Melissa), or a cozy corner where food is produced with care and personal touch, like Gemelli Gelateria in Ben Franklin. If you are a small home business operating under the Texas Cottage Food Law, you could qualify as an artisanal business, like Stephen’s Sweet Sensations in Irving.
Fostering relationships. There is a relationship between the artisan, the consumers, and the community. Unlike fast food, frozen food, or canned food, with artisanal food, you get to interact with the business owner who is also hands-on when it comes to producing the food they sell. They are bakers, butchers, chefs, chocolatiers, etc. You get to meet them in person in farmers’ markets or local activities like Maison Burdisso, which sells handcrafted French macarons in farmers’ markets like Urban Harvest Farmers Market. This is how Planted Bakery in Fort Worth describes itself: local, and vegan too. You can ask them questions about how they make the food they sell and most – if not all – are always responsive. This is the feedback of the customers of Jane Dough Bake House (located in Midlothian) about its business owner and baker Krystal. It is possible you know their life story and why they get started with this business. You see these artisans involved in the community other than selling food. They influence policies and take part in community-building activities.
Artisanal sweets and desserts Production & Farming in Texas
It is easy to find artisanal sweets and desserts in Texas because many businesses use the name “artisan” or “artisanal”. Some examples include JM Artisan Baked Goods in Bandera, Milwaukee Joe’s Artisan Ice Cream in Irving, Vecchio Pallino: Authentic Italian Artisanal Gelateria in Salado, Wheat’s Artisan Bakery in Childress, and Ked’s Artisan Ice Cream and Treats in Plano.
Some artisanal businesses use other terms associated with artisanal, like “handcrafted”. An example is Parlor’s Handcrafted Ice Creams in Dallas.
TexasRealFood lists some of the artisan food producers in Texas that make delicious sweets and desserts.
- Acuzar Ice Cream Company
- Baldo’s Ice Cream in Dallas
- Dubalicious Cupcakes
- Dude, Sweet Chocolate
- Great Balls of Fudge n Stuff in Dallas
- Five Mile Chocolate
- Humble Pies in Dallas
- JK Chocolate
- Pajama Sweets
- Pop Star Handcrafted Popsicles
- Pure Milk & Honey in Dallas
- Rústicas Home Bakery
- Steel City Pops
- Trouvi Cookies
- San Antonio
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
An important characteristic of any artisanal product is the absence of any chemical additives and artificial ingredients.
The packaging of artisanal sweets and desserts is similar to the packaging of mass-produced, store-bought food. Packaging should be sturdy enough to hold the food. It should have a cover to protect the food inside from potential contaminants like dirt, small insects, etc. The material could be plastic or cardboard.
Enjoying Artisanal sweets and desserts
You eat artisanal sweets and desserts the same way you do as those commercially produced by big, multinational food companies. If you notice artisanal food being inconsistent, that is part of the process. Artisans source locally-produced ingredients and these fruits or vegetables will not appear and taste the same, resulting in minor inconsistencies in taste and flavor although usually, it is not a bad thing. Yes, this one tastes different from the one I had last week, but both are delicious nonetheless. Remember that one of the reasons why commercial production of sweets and desserts requires the use of additives is to make sure everything looks and tastes the same regardless of when they were made.
The artisanal sweets and desserts landscape in Texas has accommodated not just traditional sweets and desserts, but also the people with specific preferences. For example, if you like eating ice cream but you are lactose intolerant, the place for you is Jim Jim’s Water Ice in Austin. If you are looking for gluten-free sweets, try Violeta’s Bake Shop in Sugar Land, Anti Social Icecream Co in Austin (which also has dairy-free products just like Melt Ice Cream in Fort Worth), or Gelü Italian Ice in Friendswood. If you are looking for vegan options, you have Capital City Bakery in Austin, Tough Cookie Bakery in Bastrop, which has vegan and vegetarian food, or Mrs. J’s Heav’nly Delights in Garland, which makes vegan fudge.
For organic, plant-based food, try GoodPop in Austin. If you are looking for diabetic-friendly donuts, try Sinless Foods LLC in Fort Worth. Bellaire’s Tuxedo Bakery‘s famous petite handcrafted Pecan Cookie Cups is a good choice if you are looking for preservative-free sweet treats. Amy’s Chocolate in Frisco promises a bag of gourmet chocolates with no waxes, fillers, emulsifiers, or preservatives. Get your keto cheesecakes at Texas Petite Pies and Cakes in Dallas and your paleo treats at Pinch of Salt Pastries in Southlake.
Different kinds of sweets and desserts require different kinds of storage practices. Some sweets and desserts like ice cream require refrigeration, while others are perfectly ok left on the table or countertop in food storage with a lid, like cookies.
When buying artisanal sweets and desserts, ask for storage instructions for any leftovers.