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Hugh Thomas

Sweet Enough?

The year — 2012. That’s when it last happened. Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, led by ice cream crusader Claire Kelsey, scooped the BSF Awards Best of the Best. There were hungry Londoners. There were 20-minute queues. But there was Ginger’s toast and marmalade ice cream.

In the intervening six years, barely a squeak has been made by the world of sugar and sweet. Kitty Travers’ La Grotta Ices are the only other dessert trader to claim a BSF Award for Best of the Best. And that was back in 2010. So what’s happened? Has pudding lost its voice as a legitimate street-side course?

Maybe it’s the lack of frontstage theatre (with exceptions to Cake Doctor, Chin Chin Labs, Thai Khrim, et al). Maybe the British weather influences what we eat more than we care to think (with ice cream especially – traders like Blu Top hibernate for the winter). Maybe dessert is too formal – or too structured – to be eaten as part of a larger meal (this is street food: there are no rules, dammit). Some say the rising popularity for double and triple glazing is why we no longer run out at the sound of Mr Whippy…

But there are signs roadside dessert is on British and European minds, and in British and European mouths. For starters, Scotland’s Crema Caravan took home a shared win the other week for their inventive-yet-close-to-home crème brulee rhubarb crumble topping. They have a history in the awards, what with a 2015 Best Dessert title. Only this time round it’s the ultimate prize they’re after.

Also at the Scottish awards was MOO PIE and their toasted marshmallow fluff-blessed ice cream sandwiches (a mouthful in every sense of the word), making a good case for their brilliant gelato. MOO PIE’s Berlinian counterparts, Jones, beat the wonderful Amster-dam Good Cookies to win the judges favour – ergo ‘Best Dessert’ – at the European final last year with their lemon and mint sorbet.

This year? This year, there’s The Bournville Waffle Company, who’re wanting to show the rest of Europe (including Belgium) what they’re made of. Not an easy feat, especially with competition from Doh Hut’s chocolate ganache doughnuts. Or Baking Biker’s crème egg dans la crème egg. Not to mention the prospect that 2018 could be the year of… s’mores dumplings?

Oh yes, and there’s Urban Cheesecake. Is it baked goods, or a 21st century work of art? Whatever, images of their masterpieces are going viral. We shouldn’t need to explain why. But, as we’re (slowly) learning from social media, are things always what they seem? Take home the public vote from their showing in Derby and they’ll have us more than convinced.

Will we be calling 2018 the time puddings and desserts tasted sweet victory? Proof is, most definitely, in the pudding.