Suddenly, it seems that miniature portions of everything are the hot food trend. Even the fast food joints have jumped on board, with Church’s offering Chicken Minis and Burger King promoting their famous chicken and beef minis. These are really sliders, and are probably an attempt to capitalize on the current resurgence of popularity in bar food.
No trend is hotter than miniature desserts. Darden’s Seasons 52 helped launch the onslaught with their Mini Indulgences menu, which offers small portions of eight desserts for $2.50 each. Chili’s has followed with Sweet Shots, selling for $1.99 each or three for $5.49. More upscale restaurants, such as the Wave in the W Lakeshore Hotel in Chicago, have gone to a mini-only dessert menu. Well over 200 miniature dessert items have turned up on supermarket shelves over the past five years, such as Pillsbury’s Sweet Moments and Entenmann’s Mini Cakes; Baskin-Robbins and Starbucks are also getting involved.
In theory, it sounds great—you have a small indulgence, which satisfies your craving for dessert without packing on an excess of calories. The dirty secret of mini desserts, of course, is that it’s hard to have only one, and diners frequently use the small size of the minis as an excuse to consume two or more. At Seasons 52, I’ve been guilty of this many times, and can attest to how easy it is for a party of four to have “one of each.”
While it’s easy to be cynical about sliders and mini desserts, they are at least a step in the right direction—away from supersizing and caloric overload. The Mini Indulgences at Seasons 52 range from 140 to 330 calories, with fat content from 7 to 21 grams. Compare this to the Olive Garden’s Black-Tie Mousse Cake (760 calories, 48 grams of fat) or their White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake (890 calories and a whopping 62 grams of fat). None of these compare to the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake at The Cheesecake Factory, which contains 1680 calories, or close to the recommended adult daily intake (they don’t even admit how many grams of fat are in that baby). Mini desserts may not be a cure-all, but they’re a step in the right direction.