DESSERTS are no longer just a sweet finish to a meal. More cafes and restaurants that are devoted to just serving desserts are opening.
And the 'just desserts' theme is proving a sweet success.
This year alone sees three new boutiques on the scene, bringing to eight the number of dessert-cafe names already around, not counting their outlets.
There are so many ice-cream parlours and cheesecake destinations it is difficult to keep track.
The latest on the dessert-cafe menu are Obolo in Joo Chiat Road and Macaron, in Robertson Walk. Both opened in June.
Adding to the list will be 2am Dessert Bar in Holland Village which is opening this week. Its twist is that it will serve wine with its sweet temptations.
The crowds are certainly flocking to Macaron, which has only set courses, with each dish having a dessert element.
'It's a 32-seater restaurant and we've been packed every night since it opened,' says a spokesman for Les Amis, the foodie group behind Macaron.
Existing eateries targeting the sweet-toothed like Gobi, Paisley & Cream, Canele Patisserie Chocolaterie, Laurent's Cafe and Chocolate Bar and The Cheesecake Cafe are enjoying a sugar rush, too (see other story).
Gobi and Canele opened second outlets in April and February this year, respectively.
A spokesman for Les Amis, which also runs Canele, said 'business is booming' at the second outlet in Paragon. Figures were unavailable.
Gobi's second outlet, meanwhile, is in The Central, at Clarke Quay, and comes just 14 months after the original opened in Katong Mall.
Ms Lee Ai Ming, who co-owns Gobi with head chef Tan Liak Khoon, says: 'We have opened another outlet as response has been very good.'
The Katong outlet has 20 walk-in customers a day and receives at least five corporate orders a week.
Laurent's Cafe and Chocolate Bar makes chocolate by hand.
Also at The Central is Paisley & Cream, which stumbled on the dessert craze when it opened in February and quickly changed from a sandwich-and-wrap place into a dessert cafe.
From having just four dessert items on the menu, it now has seven kinds of cupcakes, two kinds of cheesecakes and bread pudding on any given day.
'Customers started asking for more pastries and even suggested things like Oreo cupcakes, so the focus is on the pastries now,' says its co-owner, Ms Puja Pawa, who is a London-trained pastry and cuisine chef.
Explaining why the dessert trend is hot, Gobi's Ms Lee says: 'People like the idea of a sweet 'pick-me-up' during the week, especially after work.'
The eateries may all serve up sweet dishes, but each has a distinct concept.
Gobi customises desserts for corporate events and weddings, down to matching the colour of clients' themes.
2am Dessert Bar is adding extra punch to its designer confections by serving wine.
Chef owner Janice Wong explains: 'We believe the right choice of wine can enhance the taste of the dessert.'
Over at The Cheesecake Cafe, the shiok of the new is its constant appeal.
Founder Tan Hui Yian says: 'Constant innovation is why we're still attracting new fans, adding to those who have followed us for almost seven years.'
It has a new cheesecake flavour every week. This week's orange cheesecake joins predecessors like lemon-lime, vanilla-chocolate-chip and cherry cheesecake.
Quality is the theme stressed by Laurent Bernard, owner of Laurent's Cafe and Chocolate Bar (formerly The Chocolate Factory).
His hot chocs are handmade in-house using Venezuelan cocoa beans.
He says: 'We have customers because we maintain our quality.'
Its open kitchen concept with a linked chocolate display room kept at 16 deg C is a hit with customers.
Expansion plans are in the pipeline for practically all players on the dessert cafe scene, ranging from bigger menus to bigger premises.
'We might want to add a dessert bar that includes savouries like gourmet sandwiches in two years' time,' says Mr Mac Woo, co-owner of Obolo, which is an expansion of an online cheesecake business started in 2004.
Some, though, are mindful that things can turn out not as sweet.
'If we do entirely pastry, I don't want it to be like the bubble-tea craze,' says Paisley & Cream's Ms Pawa.