By T.J. WINICK and JACKIE JESKO
The icing on the cake. The cherry on the sundae. For many of us, nothing tops desserts.
But something confounding is happening to our confections: Our tarts are now tiny. Our Danish is downright diminutive.
And just went you didn't think your favorite sweet treat couldn't get any smaller, there's New York City's trendy micro-cupcake maker, Baked by Melissa.
Standing an inch tall and an inch-and-a-half wide, these tiny cupcakes, stuffed with flavors like peanut butter and jelly or s'mores, pack between 38 and 45 calories each and sell for about $1. Owner Melissa Bushell said the size of her cupcakes appeals to her customers because they get the best of both diet worlds.
"Everybody's health conscious these days and we like to indulge," Bushell said. "I think that when we started the company it was the beginning of the economic decline and people were feeling like they want to save their money but indulging in a bite-size stuffed cupcake for just a dollar or 12 for $10, it's not a lot."
Of course, the concept is not entirely new. Dunkin' Donuts has offered munchkin doughnut holes for decades. But with the new focus on portion control and serving size, all kinds of sweets are downsizing.
Cinnabon introduced mini-buns - alongside its 730-calorie classic roll. Starbucks has stocked its shelves with petite treats, such as the cake pop. Dairy Queen now offers a mini-blizzard, and at Baskin Robbins, cake bites.
And then there's your grocery aisle, filled with "two-bite" bags of cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels and more.
Still, if America's sweet tooth is robust as ever - we just spent an estimated $2.1 billion on Easter candy - why aren't our desserts? Bon Appetit magazine's chef Mary Nolan said it's all about bakers giving the customer what they want.
"They're thinking people might not commit to say, the whole pie, but if we can sell them a tiny miniature pie that's just so cute, who's going to pass up on that?" she said.
Maybe the health conscious can have their cake and eat it too and if you have a little self-discipline, and that's a big "if," perhaps we no longer have to worry about our eyes being bigger than our stomachs.