Sneak Peek: Unique Sweets

Tonight's episode of Unique Sweets is all about Updated Classics: fun twists on familiar flavors. Here's a sneak peek of some of the unique sweets we have in store.

At the Harrison in New York City, Pastry Chef Colleen Grapes serves up riffs on classic desserts. And they usually involve booze. One unique spin: They'll serve you birthday cake whether it's your birthday or not. The flavors change often. Above, one of Grapes' birthday cake creations: three layers of chocolate cake, each soaked with cola and topped with blackberry jam and malt balls.

Heather Earnhardt is baking up her grandmother's recipes from memory at Volunteer Park Cafe in Seattle, but adding her own little twist on them. One popular pick? Earnhardt's Shaker Meyer Lemon Pie, a thrifty way to use up whole lemons. The filling is made with eggs from chickens she and Ericka Burke raise themselves.

In need of just a taste of cheesecake? The Confectional in Seattle serves up individual servings of cheesecake in creative flavorings. Try their chocolate/mint combo, or go for brighter flavors with their lemon and white chocolate cheesecake. Their addictive Mexican chocolate version leaves behind lingering heat.

Prospect in San Francisco creates desserts that capture childhood flavors but updates them for an adult palette. Their s'mores are made from homemade graham crackers and marshmallows, are dripping with chocolate ganache and get a new note from the addition of almonds and coconut. Cocao nibs add a bitter contrast to the sweetness of caramel popcorn for a nice balance.

Be sure to tune in to see what other Unique Sweets these locations are cooking up. And we managed to score the recipe for Prospect's Cacao Nib Caramel Corn, so you can eat along with the episode!

All new Unique Sweets, tonight at 10:30 p.m.
Cocao Nib Caramel Corn

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 ounces dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 tablespoon cacao nibs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Pop the corn according to package directions and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt, corn syrup, vanilla bean and cacao nibs. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium heat.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn, tossing to coat evenly. Divide the caramel corn between 2 parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the popcorn is sticky and caramelized, about 1 hour. Cool the popcorn on sheet pans, stirring often for the first few minutes (so it doesn't stick together). Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

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