Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Emerging trends: Salted Caramel
When Starbucks is opening yet another coffee shop in a neighbourhood, realtors know it's a sign of development and rejuvenation and potentially - a housing boom. Similarly, when Starbucks begins to expand its product base and offer new products, foodies know those ingredients have hit the tipping point.
Foodies have long known about salted caramel. With Häagen-Dazs introducing a new reserve brand of salted caramel ice cream, Starbucks offering salted caramel hot chocolate, President's Choice selling sea salted caramel popcorn, it's obvious salted caramel has crossed over into the mainstream.
In an article in The New York Times, called "How Caramel Developed a Taste for Salt," Kara Nielsen, a trend analyst at the Center for Culinary Development in San Francisco says American food trends go through five stages, from "chef's indulgence to supermarket staple."
Salted caramel was a slow progression that started with top pastry chefs in New York City introducing the unexpected pairing on their menus and ended with Wal-Mart introducing the flavour in a box of truffles.
Even the man of the hour, President Barack Obama has developed a taste for Fran's salted caramels, propelling them to become the company's best-seller.
“Dulce de leche is what brought caramel back,” Nielsen told the Times. “Without it, you wouldn’t have salted caramel’s popularity right now.”
Salted caramel is not for everyone. It's a rich, savoury-sweet flavour that starts out strong and slowly mellows on the tip of your tongue. But it's more palatable, for taste buds like mine that want to taste every last ingredients rather than the overpowering taste of too much sugar.