By Julie Parise, CBSNewYork.com
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Cupcakes are so last year.
At least, that's what the folks at New York's newest niche sweet purveyor are saying.
The latest specialty dessert shop to hit the Big Apple is Treat House, a so-called "crisped rice treat emporium," devoted to selling creative versions of a childhood favorite, the Rice Krispy Treat.
Opening Tuesday on the Upper West Side, Treat House is the brainchild of a former city restaurant hotshot and his preschool teacher wife.
While Manhattan is no stranger to trendy desserts and food fads, the team at Treat House is ready to compete with likes of frozen yogurt, craft cookies, doughnuts and of course, cupcakes.
"The cupcake market is obviously well-developed and overly saturated," said Chris Russell, who formerly founded swanky NYC spot Moomba. "This is a new twist on a classic dessert treat, and it's a huge market that really no one's ever done."
It all started with a bake sale.
A few years ago, the Russell's two children needed to raise money for a school project, and the family launched a simple curbside sweets stand.
The couple whipped up crisped rice treats in flavors like dark chocolate chili and bubble gum. When customers continued to come back for more, they realized they just might be on to something.
Russell and his wife Jen went to pastry chef Wendy Israel, formerly of New York's W Hotel. Together, the crew came up with over 30 flavor combinations.
"We spent two years developing the flavors to make sure every single treat is balanced, that the texture is right, that it's not too sweet, sour or bitter," Russell said.
Customers at Treat House will choose from crisped rice treat flavors like birthday cake, s'mores, red velvet, lemon and caramel fleur de sel.
Promising feedback at pre-launch tastings have given the Treat House team seemingly unshakable faith in the gourmet treats. Russell added that in the days leading up to the shop's opening, folks have been banging on the doors looking for samples.
"The product is beautiful, and it tastes better than it looks," he said.
In a city where folks wake up before dawn to line up for the newest pastry concoction, the Russells know the competition is stiff -- but the couple is confident.
"We're either the first people who have thought of this or are crazy enough to try it," Russell said. "But if the initial feedback that we've gotten is any indicator, we might be able to give cupcakes and Cronuts a run for their money."
Treat House is located at 452 Amsterdam Ave.
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