ARLINGTON — Anne Moynihan has a soft spot for snack foods and candy bars. So the computer programmer turned line cook turned pastry chef creates desserts at the restaurant Tryst that are riffs on classic snacks such as Twinkies, Devil Dogs, and fruit pie turnovers.
One recent confection was her take on a Hostess Sno Ball. She cut a coconut sheet cake into rounds, filled the cake with passion fruit curd, and frosted the round with Italian meringue and shredded coconut to look like a snowball. Her coolest current treats are frozen chocolate pops, just like Fudgsicles, which she spikes with chipotle pepper for an intriguing hint of heat.
Moynihan, 38, says that she, Tryst chef-owner Paul Turano, and chef de cuisine Dan DeCarpis like the idea of “being playful” when it comes to sweets. Having a few nostalgic desserts on the menu, says Turano, “brings people back to their childhoods.” Don’t look for deep-fried Twinkies. Compared to shelf-stable snack foods, Moynihan says, “Ours tastes like a better, fresher version; the way you want to eat it now.”
A few years ago, the pastry chef became enamored with Mounds bars. “I just had to translate the candy into a dessert,” she says. The result is an outrageously decadent, grown-up bar consisting of a chocolate shortbread crust topped with a layer of chocolate fudge and chunky-gooey coconut cream all draped in chocolate glaze.
For the Fudgsicles, Moynihan makes a basic chocolate pudding recipe, thickened with cornstarch instead of egg, and adds a spoonful of pureed chipotle pepper and a touch of orange. She whisks a little chocolate and butter into the warm pudding mixture at the end, which she says gives the ice pops a richer mouthfeel. To serve them, she plates a Fudgsicle with a dollop of avocado whipped cream and a trail of smoked almonds for a fun, Southwestern twist. “People get excited when they see something that looks like what they ate growing up,” she says.
Moynihan’s golden Twinkies are filled with butterscotch pool and her Devil Dogs are small oblong chocolate cakes with vanilla cream, served with a puddle of habanero dulce de leche. New summer fruit turnovers include strawberry-rhubarb, cherry, and peach. The pastry chef doesn’t reveal what other old-style treats will be coming up on the menu. Can FunnyBones be far behind?