It’s February 14, which means sappy love songs, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, and . . . 3D printing?
As Michael Wolf predicted in his prescient post “10 Trends Shaping the Future of Cooking in 2018,” dessert-tech is a market that’s growing fast. From intelligent ovens that speed up the cookie-making process to a whole mess of ice cream innovation, we’ve rounded up some of the sweetest (sorry) pairings in dessert-tech for your V-day holiday pleasure.
Desserts On Demand:
This Israeli-based startup is basically applying the Keurig system to desserts. Currently, their capsules containing ice cream mixture are quite a bit bigger than the coffee pods, though the two systems work in a very similar way: after the Solo Gelato capsules are inserted, the machine “freezes and expels air” into them. Sixty seconds later, out comes fresh gelato. The company’s website also boasts a cloud-based database and “state of the art mechanical and cooling solutions.” Solo Gelato currently boasts a lineup of 24 flavors, with offerings including sorbet, traditional ice cream, and even boozy treats for the 21+ crowd.
Churned-to-order ice cream made with the freezing power of liquid nitrogen has been around for a few years. However, bringing on-demand ice cream into your home, Solo Gelato is hoping to “disrupt the ice cream industry” in the very way that coffee pods disrupted the coffee industry. (Side question: to what extent have coffee pods really done that?)
Another dessert company piggybacking off the Keurig model is the Argentinian startup Tigoût—though really, they’re more like a souped-up Easy-Bake Oven. How it works: pop two capsules into their designated slots in the top of the machine (I’m assuming one is liquid and one is dry ingredients, but no details are given). In just a few minutes (again, no details on cook time are given) you get a freshly baked pastry. According to LinkedIn, the startup is preparing to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) and has a patent in process.
Tigoût also has an integrated app which allows you to order more pastry capsules, monitor your baking process and set alarms. As of now, Tigoût offers seven different types of dessert capsules ranging from chocolate fudge to a caramel “volcano.”
What if instead of having a warm, melty chocolate chip cookie in, say, an hour—taking into account the time to soften the butter, make the dough, shape it, and bake it—you could get your mitts on one in only 10 minutes? That’s the promise of CHiP, a smart oven that uses patent-pending convection cooking technology to speed up the cookie baking process.
For all the tech nerds out there, CHiP is also wifi-enabled and can integrate into your smart-home system. Customers can order cookie dough pods in a variety of flavors, including vegan and gluten-free options, which are clad in biodegradable parchment paper for easy insertion into the oven. Milk not included.
Less Sugar, Less Dairy
Healthier options are another big trend in the dessert-meets-tech sphere, especially when it comes to ice cream. Vegan, non-dairy, high-protein and low-sugar desserts are gaining popularity, as proven by the runaway success of HaloTop. The low-calorie treat, which became the No. 1 best-selling ice cream in U.S. grocery stores in 2017, and other ice cream brands are scrambling to cash in on the healthier trend. Plant-based desserts such as the coconut-based ice cream NadaMoo!, non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s, and a whole host of vegan ‘screams have been rising rapidly in popularity.
However, not all health-conscious ice creams come in pint form. Veru is a company that uses patent-protected flash-freezing technology to make ice pops that are low-calorie, additive free, and (apparently) still manage to taste good. They make use of our old friend liquid nitrogen to freeze their ice cream mixes to temperatures as low as -196 degrees Celsius in just seconds. This quick freeze allows them to preserve maximum flavor so that they can cut calories without sacrificing on taste.
Another pioneer in the frozen-dessert field is Pixsweet, an L.A.-based company that participated in the Smart Kitchen Summit startup showcase last year. Pixsweet makes customizable, 3D-printed popsicles, so you can turn everything from brand logos to unicorns into edible pops.
Pastry chefs are another group embracing the edible 3D printing trend. One of the most popular, who has also become an internet darling, is Dinara Kasko, an architect-turned-pastry chef known across the web for her sculptural desserts (just check out her 555,000 Instagram followers). Kasko uses computer modeling software to make intricate molds, which she then 3D prints and uses to make her custom cakes. The popularity of her desserts and the customizable pops from Pixsweet suggest 3D printing might play a significant role in the future of dessert.
Dessert Meal Subscription Kits
It seems that no matter your lifestyle and dietary preference, there’s a meal kit for that. Now sweet lovers can sate their sugary cravings with Sweetbake, a food subscription service from Nestle (its first) that caters to those with a sweet tooth. For $35 per month, subscribers get two ready-to-bake kits—just add milk, butter, and eggs. At first glance, it’s like a fancier version of boxed brownies, only you get the added thrill of receiving mail. However, Sweetbake’s repertoire extends far beyond chocolate chip cookies; their kits have ingredients for everything from gingerbread biscotti to peppermint brownie cups.
They’re not the only company breaking into the dessert delivery kit sphere: companies foodstirs and SoBakeable also offer baking subscriptions. The latter even provides videos with recipes and baking tips for those who download the companion app.
One dessert-meets-tech innovation we’d love to see at the Spoon is a home bean-to-bar chocolate-maker. As contributor Allen Weiner has pointed out, “the home chocolate market appears to be a large, untapped opportunity.” Tech entrepreneurs, smart kitchen gadget makers, and startup upstarts—we’ve got your next project ready for you.
Did we miss anyone doing exciting things in the dessert/tech field? Tell us in the comments!