Dining

Bittersweet Symphony

Pastry chefs across the country are turning Negronis into dessert
Negroni Desserts
Photo: Courtesy of Tipsy Scoop

Negronis: They're not just for drinking anymore.

Since its inception in Florence at the beginning of the 20th century, the stomach-soothing beverage has been a staple in the bar industry. Now the classic cocktail has solidified a spot in the hearts and minds of pastry chefs, too. At bakeries and restaurants across the U.S., the world's most beloved bitter drink is increasingly being transformed from its traditional liquid form into unusual sweets.

To help celebrate Negroni Week, which winds down this weekend, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco rolled out its own take on the doughnut hybrid. The "doughgroni" is a light brioche dough filled with a dual core of Campari jelly and Negroni and blood orange custard, fried and dusted with sugar, then served with a pipette of Negroni syrup.

Another Bay Area specialist, Sugar & Spun is spinning out an adult version of the childhood carnival favorite with its Negroni cotton candy. At Delish Bakery in Austin, pastry chef Callie Speer recently collaborated with acclaimed potter Keith Kreeger for a limited-edition Negroni tumbler filled with Pop Rocks flavored by the digestif.

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On the East Coast, Melissa Tavss of New York's booze-inspired ice cream company Tipsy Scoop created a grapefruit Negroni creamsicle ice cream for the celebratory holiday. "It's a really interesting flavor profile," Tavss says. "The bitterness and sweetness is more complex than, say, chocolate or vanilla. I think a lot of people are experimenting with adding different flavors to sweets. That's why we're so excited about this."

Tavss is shipping the frozen treat across the country for a limited time only through her website and offering it in select retail locations in Manhattan. She suggests serving it in a Negroni-inspired sundae bar with Campari-soaked cherries, red sprinkles and candied grapefruit and orange peels.

If you miss the ordering window, don't fret. Tavss gave us the scoop on making a DIY Campari float or milkshake at home: Add equal parts Campari and vermouth to ice cream (vanilla, orange or grapefruit will work) with a bit of vanilla extract and a dash of grapefruit or chocolate bitters. Give it a whirl in the blender and throw in a straw. "My father used to mix grapefruit and Campari," Tavss says. "I love the combination. It's not overly sweet, but it's certainly tasty."

Time to raise a spoon.

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