Sweet & Salty with the Baked Boys

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Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

If you've been watching this season of Unique Sweets, then you're already familiar with Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, the owners of Brooklyn-based Baked bakery and guest contributors on the show.  We caught up with the dynamic dessert duo to get their take on the latest and the greatest in sweets.

You've traveled all around the country in the name of sweets. What's one "trend" you see sticking around?

Matt Lewis: The salted sweet dessert. You've seen it evolve into other sweets, like bacon cupcakes. Anything with bacon in it is all about the salt factor. Brown butter is another, though it's not always done correctly.

Renato Poliafito:And Americans are starting to catch on to using olive oil in their desserts.

What were some regional favorites you discovered while researching your cookbooks, Baked and Baked Explorations?

Matt Lewis: Black and white cookies are very New York, and Banana Pudding is very Southern.

Renato Poliafito:We discovered that jello salad is a dessert that is being made all around the country, though with a different iteration on it. And everyone thinks it was invented where  they live. We included our take on it in our second cookbook, Baked Explorations.

How do you define a 'unique sweet' ?

Matt Lewis: My definition of a unique sweet is anything that stands apart.  It might be as simple as a chocolate chip cookie made extremely well and with killer chocolate chunks, or it might be a breakfast treat that seems perfectly suited for a midnight snack.  I like unusual ingredients and presentations, but it shouldn't feel forced and it should always be good.

Renato Poliafito: For me, a unique sweet can be something as simple as a dessert you made yourself, to something unexpected that you would find at restaurant. A dessert that has the baker's special spin, wether it be an ingredient or their style of execution. For example: packaged hostess cupcake? Delicious, but not unique. Homemade hostess cupcake using good-quality chocolate and an ancho chili powder in the cream filling? Totally unique.

What was the best unique sweet you ate for the show?

Renato Poliafito: The lemon donut at Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco.

Matt Lewis: The crack pie from Momofuku Milk Bar has a mouth feel I've never encountered. It's definitely a great dessert to share!

How did you develop your menu for Baked, your bakery in Brooklyn?

Matt Lewis: We wanted to go opposite from the cupcakes; there's so much more to explore. We're all about refining and updating classic American dessert. So yes, we have cupcakes on our menu, but we also have unique pies, cakes, cookies, bars, breakfast sweets, and more.

To get a taste of the unique sweets dreamed up by the Baked team, give their Sweet & Salty Cake a try.

This is our signature creation, our most loved cake, and our most requested recipe. Is all this attention warranted? Absolutely. Our Sweet and Salty Cake is an indulgent but sophisticated adult sweet: The perfectly salted caramel contrasts beautifully with the rich chocolate layers, giving the cake balance and character. It probably goes without saying that the salted caramel is also delicious poured over dark chocolate ice cream.

Catch Unique Sweets on Cooking Channel, Sunday nights at 10:30pm ET.

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