Foodie Underground: The Replacements

I rarely regret voicing my opinion, but in the time since what I deemed an enlightened cupcake rant went to press, my father has taken it upon himself to send me every possible card, photo, and present that relates to the still-trendy dessert. Case in point: on a recent visit, he showed up at my apartment practically exploding with giddiness, which is something to behold from a bearded man of 6’4″. He handed me a wine bottle wrapped in pastel-colored cupcake wrapping paper. The content, shockingly enough, was a wine bottle from Cupcake Vineyards. My father found this hilarious.

Personal opinion aside, foodies concur, cupcakes are so last year. There are plenty of foodie forward replacement options, from chic and cosmopolitan to straight-out-of-the-family-reunion category. And they’re all giving cupcakes a run for their money.

1. Cookies on a string

In San Francisco, you can buy cookies straight out of a window. Fat Cookies entices its consumers with cookies in a paper bag, delivered by a dangling string. Now that’s the coolest bakery concept I’ve seen in awhile.

2. Pie By Bike

It’s fitting that Piecycle, just like Fat Cookie, doesn’t have an actual website. Just a Facebook page and Twitter stream – the marketing tools of guerilla foodies. It’s simple really: $3 for a slice and $20 for a whole pie, all delivered in the wee hours of the weekend, via two wheels in the University District of Seattle. Piecycle is certainly taking advantage of the late night sweet tooth – much like Voodoo Doughnuts of Portland, Oregon – but it’s also combining the two loves of 20-something urbanites: DIY food and bikes. It’s a match made in flaky, fruity heaven. And if you’re not into the whole bike delivery thing, there’s always the pop-up pie variety.

3. Macarons

They’re French and they’re fabulous (and shown at top). In fact, some might say they’re a little bourgeois, but at a handful of pocket change a pop, macarons aren’t limited to the upper echelons of foodie society. There are cafes devoted to them, whole books written about them and, just like cupcakes, with their flavor variations and transportable size, they’re the dessert that can fit every occasion, from weddings to picnics in the park.

4. Cake Pops

It’s almost a cupcake. But not. And they’re everywhere. Apartment Therapy thinks they’re cool. I’m currently attempting a creative, organic, non high-fructose corn syrup version (check back for that in a couple of weeks). If you’re new to cake pops, they’re just that: cake batter rolled in frosting and turned into what looks like a lollipop. The new cupcake? With cake pop focused businesses popping up all over the place, you better believe it.

5. The -frees

Kick the sugar habit and get on the healthy train. Trust us, everyone is doing it. Seems like every week here at EcoSalon we’ve got another recipe packed with antioxidants and Omega-3s, and if there’s anything that cupcakes can’t do, it’s be good for you. Which is why healthier desserts are on the up and coming list. Think dark chocolate covered kale chips.

There’s a reason gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and other “free” bakeries and patisseries are taking off. It’s not just for those who have food allergies or adhere to certain culinary lifestyles. Many of these foods are better for you and the planet, and people are eating them willingly. Take Sweetpea in Portland, which always seems to be serving a salivating crowd. A girl still needs a recipe heavy in eggs, cream and butter once in awhile. But when alternatives abound we can go much farther than the standard cupcake, and that will please any foodie.

This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground, taking a conscious look at what’s bubbling in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to the culinary avant garde.

Images: bloggyboulga, sandwichgirl, Piecycleimcountingufoz, sweetpea baking co

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.