At least twice a week, nearly a third of consumers chase a meal with dessert, which means either more people are lying or they haven’t read this book yet.
Local author Alyssa Cremeans just released “The Happy Mason Jar: Quick, Easy Mason Jar Desserts and Wine Pairings” and it makes for a great last minute holiday gift should you need one.
The book pairs two of Americans’ greatest culinary loves, sweets and wine.
Yes, whiskey and craft beverages have become recent favorites but wine continues to gain in popularity. By volume alone, Americans continue to consume more wine with each passing year.
Since 1993, when Americans took in 449 million gallons of wine, the number has more than doubled to 949 million in 2016. Today, it’s common for people to buy two bottles of wine, one to pair for a meal and another for dessert. Cremeans book is for the latter.
“My husband and I really enjoy wine with meals,” said Cremeans, who said she is not fond of beer nor other spirits, “but I’ve always enjoyed finding wine and food combinations. It’s like a little puzzle for me.”
While Cremeans is not a trained sommelier, she didn’t go through her journey of drafting this book alone. First, she said, she would think of a dessert and identify what wines she thought would pair well with it.
“It’s kind of like how I enjoy baking and trying different flavors, in the same way I’ve never been able to stick with the recipe,” said Cremeans. “It always comes out of my own taste and I try to discover what tastes best. I love trying to discover what tastes best with wine.” Then, she went to her local store to speak with someone she trusted. “I would go through the desserts and imagine what flavors of wine would enhance the flavors of the dessert, and then I would go to a local wine shop. A local wine expert that I would work with either confirm or deny putting those desserts with the wine. It definitely helped me along the way.”
The process later evolved, Cremeans said, as she would reach out to the wineries themselves, “because those producers know exactly what they are making, and have a vision of where they want to see it go. I shared my idea and the dessert I wanted to pair it with, and they were on board.”
Cremeans, and her husband, Devin, are both of the millennial generation credited with a the surging wine business. The demographic, as a whole, is oft described as tech savvy, information hungry and wine thirty. The Wine Market Council recently reported that 42 percent of all wine consumed in the United States was by Millennials.
“I know Millennials see it as kind of a bad rep: we’ve been given so many resources to learn,” said Cremeans. “Even with just the smartphone, we don’t even have to think twice before finding the answer to a question we’re curious about. So, I think having all these resources at our disposal, and with the internet, I think it enhances that learning muscle and prompts that desire to learn.”
Cremeans, 25, said she’s been baking, “ever since I could hold a spoon. One of my biggest frustrations growing up was making a beautiful cake and then having it dry out.” Something, she said she feels intimidates others from trying new, elaborate recipes. So, each dessert is meant to be presented in a Mason jar. When the lid to the jar is kept on tight, Cremeans said the dessert can last up to ten days. “And dryness has never been a problem. … I think Mason jar cakes taste even better the second or third day, when the frosting and cake have locked in with one another.”
Cremeans end product is a six-chapter book with 30 different recipes. Chapter titles include Orange Treats, Party Time, Date Night, Classics, Summertime Sweets and Cozy Holiday. Each recipe is paired with a wine, a picture and a story, aesthetic enough to be a coffee-table book and practical in purpose to be found in the kitchen. “I did my best to make the book a ‘fool proof,’ so people of all baking levels can really dive in and make something colorful and delicious for the people they love.”
With her name now associated with a book catering to our favorite indulgences, Cremeans was playfully asked if friends have asked if she’s a lush. The author laughed and said, “Actually, nobody’s asked me [if I’m a lush] yet, because those who would be bold enough to ask have been lucky enough to get plenty of samples —and, they know I would cut them off.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.