Brownies are one of the most decadent yet simplest sweet goods to experiment with flavors. One of the best-known brownie shops in the country is New York City’s Fat Witch Bakery, founded in 1988 by Patricia Helding, who wrote a cookbook on brownies, blondies and bars titled “Fat Witch Brownies.” Her operation bakes and sells 2,000 brownies a day from their Chelsea Market retail store and online orders.
This June, Fat Witch expanded internationally by opening a retail store in Kyoto, Japan. Asked why she chose Kyoto instead of Tokyo, Helding responded, “Because Kyoto represents Japan. To celebrate Japan, we’ve created four recipes with ingredients and concepts inspired by our Japanese partners. The new Baby Witches will be available in our store on July 5 for at least the next six months.”
The bakery’s four Japanese inspired flavors are almond, matcha, citrus and honey. At its Chelsea Market location in Manhattan, Fat Witch Bakery serves everyday flavors that include chocolate, chocolate chip, walnut, caramel, white chocolate, dried cherry, cappuccino and chocolate chip, double chocolate, mint chocolate and the Breakfast Witch (featuring oatmeal, brown sugar, walnuts and coffee).
Other brownie specialists across the country offer a wide array of brownie flavors. Phoenix-based Fairytale Brownies offers 12 everyday flavors, for example, ranging from the edgy (espresso flavored with crushed cocoa nibs) to crunchy (with baked in pieces of toffee), all made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate.
Helding also delights Fat Witch Bakery customers with 1.5-ounce “Witch Babies,” which come in six flavors and sell for $1.89 apiece. The regular size 4-ounce Witches sell for $2.95 apiece.
Online business plays an instrumental role in Helding’s success, and her online business platform is a successful model for others to follow. A Fat Witch gift is carefully packaged and tied with ribbon. The bakery will include a gift card with a personal message for each customer that orders online. The following are some examples of creative gift packages.
Summer is Sweet
2 Bandana take-out boxes:
1 take-out box filled with 12 Fat Witch Babies
1 take-out box filled with 3 Snow Babies, 3 Double Chocolate Babies, 3 Blonde Babies and 3 Fat Witch Babies
36 Baby Witch Gift Box
Assorted selection of 12 Fat Babies, 8 Blonde Babies, 8 Walnut Babies and 8 Caramel Babies
9 Big Witch Sampler Tin
This contains one of everything to please everyone.
Assorted Selection of 1 Fat Witch, 1 Blonde Witch, 1 Double Chocolate Witch, 1 Java Witch, 1 Snow Witch, 1 Caramel Witch, 1 Red Witch, 1 Walnut Witch, 1 Breakfast Witch. Or choose 9 Fat Witches.
“Witch Ends are the parts of brownies that are on the edge of the pan. Witch Ends are great crumbled over ice cream or fruit. We have both Fat Witch and Caramel Witch Ends.”
Fat Witch Bakery also sells specialty items like Witch Brew chocolate bits for making hot chocolate, logo mugs and tote bags. It’s important to remember when you are selling online to make sure your bakery’s brand name is on every package and container. Happy customers spread the word about the deliciousness of your bakery products, and that means higher sales for you.
Ninety-nine percent of American consumers eat dessert, and 70 percent do so at least once a week — a significant increase from the 57 percent of consumers who reported eating dessert weekly just three years ago, according to foodservice industry data. It’s clear that the category presents a strong opportunity for operators looking to boost sales.
Mini desserts continue to be a big trend. Restaurant operator O’Charley’s offers its signature desserts — Brownie Lover’s Brownie, Ooey Gooey Caramel Pie and Cinnamon Sugar Donuts — in three formats: as full-size or mini size individual desserts, or as a sampler of three minis. Olive Garden introduced a set of five Piccoli Dolci — shot-glass portions of decadent desserts such as chocolate mousse, dark chocolate cake and amaretto tiramisu.
At the end of the meal, many diners crave just a little something sweet that doesn’t cost too much in terms of their dollars or their diets. Houlihan’s has introduced Mash-Ups — customizable mini desserts that mix housemade ice cream with one of the chain’s Brownie Lollies.
Take note that retail bakeries are facing more competition than ever in the brownie category, as evidenced by the fact that instore bakeries at US supermarkets increased sales of brownies and dessert bars by 17.4 percent in 2015, according to Nielsen. That means it’s time for retail bakeries to up their game and push the limits of brownie flavor and creativity.