All pumpkin everything.
A barbecue restaurant like 4 Rivers Smokehouse might not be the first place that comes to mind for some overwhelmingly comforting desserts — especially pumpkin-flavored, why-isn’t-it-Thanksgiving-yet whoopie pies and cupcakes, to name a couple — but it clearly is.
The restaurant’s Sweet Shop invited the Avenue to sample some of its fall-themed sweets.
“We’ve always had desserts,” said catering coordinator Claire Dixon. “But we wanted to do it in store.”
Here are some of the highlights from the mouthwatering adventure:
Pumpkin harvest stack: pumpkin chiffon cake filled with a whipped mascarpone filling and topped with fresh whipped cream, pecans and caramel drizzle. Do not attempt this one on your own. Bring friends.
Pumpkin whoopie pie: pumpkin spice cake filled with toasted pecan cream-cheese filling and topped with a white chocolate drizzle and pecans. The cakes holding the whoopie pie together were sturdy enough to hold the pecan cream cheese filling but were moist and soft. Because who wants a dry whoopie pie?
Pumpkin creme bombe: vanilla bean mousse, spice frosting and the ever-present caramel drizzle.
Pumpkin bayou bar: pecan shortbread crust, pumpkin and cream cheese filling. The bayou wasn’t the most photogenic or the best dessert there, but it embodied Thanksgiving. Maybe it was the consistency of the pumpkin, or maybe it was the shortbread crust.
Pumpkin cupcake: I described it as “pumpkin pie, but 100 times better,” while my friend and photographer said it was “a better way to eat pumpkin pie.” Basically, if you don’t like pumpkin pie, you will like this. The pumpkin flavor is subtle and the cupcake not too sweet.
John Rivers, the restaurant group’s chef and owner, is also responsible for the Sweet Shop’s take on the cronut, according to an email.
This soft, crunchy and warm pumpkin spice “do’ssant,” as Dixon called it, was the last dessert to come out. The part croissant, part donut was (obviously) made of fried cinnamon spice croissant dough covered in brown sugar, pumpkin spice clove and a caramel drizzle.
After so much sugar, mousse and obvious pumpkin flavor, it was almost a relief to have this crunchy “do’ssant” in front of us.
If these sweets are any indication, the desserts section of John River’s first cookbook, “The Southern Cowboy,” is sure to have something to satisfy any sweet tooth. The book hit shelves last weekend, and there will be a signing Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the restaurant’s Gainesville location, 3262 SW 35th Blvd.
The restaurant’s mail-order smoked turkey will be available to taste at the signing. The turkey is featured in the cookbook, which costs $28.99 plus tax and is also available as an e-book.
I don’t think I could eat like this more than once, but that’s what the holidays are about, right?
A version of this story ran on page 7 on 11/7/2013 under the headline "Pumpkin goodness abounds at 4 Rivers"
4 Rivers Smokehouse’s Sweet Shop debuted its fall desserts, which include the pumpkin creme bombe, a pumpkin cake filled with vanilla bean mousse and frosting topped with toasted pecans and caramel. Also available are products like the pumpkin bayou bar and pumpkin whoopie pie.