The Food Channel recently released the Top Ten Dessert Trends for 2011. While these trends focus on the consumer side of things, we all know consumers are our customers. When they aren’t eating at home, they are (hopefully) eating in our restaurants. As operators, how do these trends impact you?
#1 – Ta Da! The New Cupcake Is….. Looks like the next cupcake is actually still the cupcake, they are just getting more creative. Consumers are interested in the evolution of the cupcake and are looking for anything out of the norm. Look at adding unique and different version to your menu, from flaming cupcakes to fat, skinny or mini….this fad has become a menu icon.
#2 – Sweet, Heat, Salty & Tart. The palates of consumers are evolving and flavor combinations are playing a big role in dessert selections. Ingredients like bacon, soy and jalapenos are finding their way into dessert recipes and salty, heat and tart flavors are taking over. Take this opportunity to dress up your menu, since according to MARS Foodservices, consumers are willing to pay up to 10% more for items using well-known brands. What brands are more well-known than M&M’S®, SNICKERS® and TWIX® Brands? The new Pretzel M&M’s® offer inspiration to update your traditional brownie recipe – try the Pretzel M&M’S & Chocolate Chunk Blondie Bars with Sea Salted Caramel Sauce.
#3 – Wedding Cake Off the Guest List. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do weddings. Look at it this way: consumers are not looking for same old, same old. Look for ways to take the traditional to the next level and in some cases play into their lifestyles making things more casual and user-friendly. Of course, if catering is your gig, keep this in mind when your next bride calls in her order.
#4 – Behold the Power of Protein. Some consumers are opting out of the sugary desserts altogether, or looking for a way to add a little protein punch to their sweet treat. A few options to incorporate this trend onto your menu might be to dress up existing desserts with nuts, or consider adding artisan cheeses, paired with fresh fruit or even wine. Greek yogurts and egg custards are also growing in popularity as consumers stay on the healthy train and want options to satisfy their sweet tooth.
#5 – Desserts for Grownups. Jumping off from trend #4, this one takes dessert one step further into the realm of adulthood. For years, restaurants have offered a dessert alternative – a glass of port or scotch. This part of the menu is being studied more, so make sure your staff knows their stuff. In addition, look for ways to incorporate liquor add-ons to your menu. A shot of Bailey’s on a sundae or a little Irish in coffee not only dresses up the menu, but increases the check average too.
#6 – Whole Grains or No Grains. These are trends we’re seeing in a lot of food categories. Health concerns and gluten restrictions are driving restaurants to delve into craze. From the flourless chocolate cake to pies with whole grain crusts, keep this in mind while you are baking or ordering. Adding a few chopped TWIX® Caramel Cookie Bars to your oatmeal peach crisp sweetens up your whole grains for a great dessert or breakfast option.
#7 – Desserts in the Raw. The big take away from this trend is the lack of processing that goes into these foods. If you can buy from local farms and in-season fresh produce, even better. Brag about it on your menus. Go a little further out of the box with some of their ideas for raw and vegan desserts; it’s on the upswing.
#8 – A Touch of Sweetness All Day Long. It’s not just for after dinner anymore. Dessert-like treats are popping up throughout the day. It is no longer about over-indulging after dinner just on special occasions; small rewards can be had any time. When planning lunch menus or looking for walk-away items on to-go menus, keep in mind that desserts are welcome here too – maybe just in smaller portions. From milkshakes to cake pops, MARS Foodservices offers a variety of recipes and concepts to get the creative juices flowing.
#9 – Hint of Floral. For years hints of floral have been popular in color palates and potpourri, but now these flavors are popping up in the food category. From baked goods and cocktails to teas and yogurts, lavender specifically is being added as a “hint flavor” or syrup. Jump on this one quickly, there’s no telling what the new food color or flavor will be next year.
#10 – Dessert Theatrics. People go out to eat for the food, but also to be entertained. This trend is all about putting on a show on or around the table, from Brennan’s famous tableside Bananas Foster to gourmet s’mores. These interactive desserts are all about the dessert theater. All you need is two spatulas, vanilla ice cream and a variety of fillers and toppings (including your favorite MARS® candies chopped and crushed) to create your very own tableside marble slab-made ice cream treat. Look at your operation and see what (in any menu category) you can prepare tableside. Guests are looking for a show.
#11 (Bonus) The End of the Shareable. While, trust me, there are still some who share (I shared my
Peanut Butter Beignets at The Gage in Chicago Sunday night), there are others who order dessert for themselves – with no intention of sharing. Whether it’s the germs or the desire to get more than one bite of your favorite dish, the sharing trend is dwindling. Stay on top of this trend and be prepared to suggest fewer spoons with each order.
Read the full consumer trends, see the evidence for each or watch the video presentation on The Food Channel.
Presentation of The Food Channel’s Top Ten Dessert Trends sponsored by