No More Desserts in Jars

September 8, 2011

This past summer a trend seemed to pop up overnight: Serving pie and other desserts in jelly jars. Recipes and photos were all over the Internet. Restaurants put versions on their dessert menus—key lime and chocolate cream pies with Graham cracker crusts and fruit pies with and without bottom crusts. I found it silly and shrugged it off as another passing fad.

As someone who strives to make great tasting desserts on a daily basis, what bothers me is part logistics and part pleasure. Ground cookie-style pie crusts work fine but all the ones I’ve tasted that featured a traditional pie crust were under-baked and soggy. Glass jars serve one person and in a small container the fruit cooks faster than the crust can brown. If you get the crust brown the filling will be overcooked.

Also when you dig in all you get is filling, and you have to go to the edge to get the crust. I know some may think I’m no fun and being picky. Yes, they might be a cute hostess present, but when I am making desserts cute is not what I strive for.

I was willing to let pies in a jar go unmentioned, but I recently saw cupcakes in a jar. This is just plain dumb. The one I sampled had the cake part with a paper liner in the bottom of a one pint jar and frosting piped on top. To fill the jar required about 2 1/2 inches of frosting. The frosting stuck to the sides of the jar making it practically impossible to eat the cupcake; you had to dig through all the frosting to get to the cake. Then you have to avoid mistakenly eating the paper liner. I have seen them without paper liners, a definite improvement, but the proportions of frosting to cake are still off and they still require a spoon. This negates one of the best things about eating a cupcake— using your fingers.

So please no ice cream sandwiches, napoleons, muffins, or Rice Krispies Treats in jars


  1. Why someone would put a cupcake liner in the jar too, is beyond me. That paired with underbaked/soggy crusts! “Cutesy” or not, what has happened to quality control? Imitation bakers need to stop giving us real pastry chefs a bad reputation. A pretty presentation should never trump dessert structure, texture, or taste. Anyone can deconstruct a dessert and put it in a jar; please test your own product before a consumer has to “dig through 2.5 inches” of anything in a jar!
    Thank you for addressing this overrated trend and its “eatability”Ppppppp issues, Emily!
    P.S- I enjoyed the alternate title you gave this article via Inside Scoop SF : )

    • You’ve relaly captured all the essentials in this subject area, haven’t you?

    • Hooray, Brandi! My kind of lady. As a fellow pastry chef, thanks for echoing that sentiment and for your kind words about Inside Scoop, too.

  2. The ratio of crust to filling approaches infinity if you fold the pie upon itself. Par bake and let mathematics perfect your pie.

  3. The only cupcake-in-a-jar I would like is the ones where it’s layered cake and frosting. Like 3 layers of each… which isn’t a cupcake anymore. That makes sense to me, especially since it’s assembled after.

  4. Thank you for that. It also bothers me to think of someone scratching around in a canning jar with a metal spoon or fork.

    • My pleasure, Rachel. Scratching around in a canning jar with a metal spoon, for the last dollop of dessert is just silly. Just relieved I am not the only one to think so.

      • nootsdomesticated August 23, 2011 Thanks, Becky! Yeah I didn’t get the fuss either, until I tried it. The flavor is just different. So good!

  5. I am so happy to have found your blog. I have been an admirer for years and now I get to read your blog.

    I am afraid I missed this fad entirely, and I am so happy I did.

    What’s next?

    Happy baking!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Laura. You lucked out missing the fad. I can’t say what’s next, but I can say I’ll be happy to see this one go!

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