Bakers Journal

The Final Proof: Permissible indulgence

February 12, 2018
By Jane Dummer

The small indulgences trend is still going strong. Consumers are not ready to give up dessert, but they want to maintain a healthy dietary pattern.

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Over the past few years, we have seen that even with consumers making better-for-you food and beverage choices, they are not ready to give up on dessert. Individual, minis, thins and clusters continue to be offered from artisan bake shops and large commercial companies for people to enjoy the indulgence while still maintaining a healthy dietary pattern.

Dufflet Rosenberg, founder of the Dufflet Group agrees. “Brittles, bites, and small cookies give you the satisfaction and enjoyment of the sweet experience without overeating. Dufflet’s Small Indulgence’s chocolate signatures line includes NUTT-e morsels that are available in five flavours including cinnamon pecan and maple cashew. People just need a little piece to get the flavour of indulgence, plus the chocolate melts in your mouth adding to the treat. These delicacies were inspired from childhood memories of birthdays, fairs and celebrations and are all natural, made from scratch and never contain any artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.”

Rosenberg explains: “These confections are playful, decadent and made for grown-ups with all the fond tastes of yesteryear. We are always trying and experimenting with different flavours and options including truffles that fit into our current production and equipment. Often, we’re adding more choices that appeal to our customers plus we co-brand and create ‘little pieces of satisfaction’ for private labels.”

Personally, I prefer the term permissible indulgence rather than using the expression “guilt-free”. I’ve never been a fan of equating guilt to anything, especially eating. I’ve always promoted quality over quantity and I love the idea of a rule breaking indulgence rather than a guilt-free mediocre experience. I first heard the term permissible indulgence from Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel at IFT 2017 in Las Vegas. Dornblaser was presenting different trends in baking and confectionary and highlighted the ongoing trend of the minis, thins, clusters and brittles. They are tiny treats for the consumer who wants a sweet delight in the evening, an afternoon indulgence with coffee or bite-size tastings at a book club.


Six years ago entrepreneur and home baker Tara Nicholson was on maternity leave and baking pies often. Her family said they were definitely good enough to sell! Nicholson, co-founder of Itty Bitty Pie Company in St. Catharines, Ont., explains her approach. “At that time, cupcake shops were becoming all the rage, so I thought why not bake miniature pies? And that’s what I did with the help of my mother Pam Nicholson, who is my business partner. We started off with a stand at the St. Catharines farmers market three times a week. In 2012, we decided to buy a food truck to sell the pies at markets and events such as weddings. Then in December 2015 we opened the retail shop.”

The Itty Bitty Pie Company offers sweet and savoury pies. The most popular sweet flavours are peanut butter cream, lemon cream and butter pecan. Nicholson bakes at least six different sweet flavours every week which sell for $3 each. Nicholson says: “We pride ourselves on creating unique savoury pies. Currently there are over 20 savoury pie flavours including vegetarian and vegan options. Our most popular are the buffalo chicken, holiday turkey pie and Jamaican meat pie. The savoury pies sell for $6 each or four for $22.”

When I asked how Itty Bitty’s unique pie-in-a cup was created, I got an answer that made me laugh! Out of invention, Nicholson was serving pie at her daughter’s birthday party. They ran out of paper plates, so they served the pie in the drinking cups. It went over really well because it was easier to eat with less mess! Nicholson, referred to as the “pie creator” expands: “Pie-in-a cup is our homemade pie topped with vanilla ice cream and homemade salted caramel sauce. Customers love it, especially during peach pie season. We sell it for $6. Eating miniature food is definitely a trend that’s not going anywhere. People like having the option to mix and match so everyone gets a flavour they enjoy!”

I love this balanced approach to indulgence. It gives consumers the option to enjoy a special sweet without having to give up flavour and the overall luscious experience.

Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.

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