There's no sugar-coating it: a strong dessert game is important to entice customers. Fortunately, the options have never been greater. Richard McComb investigates the products set to make a splash in 2019
Time, or the lack of it, may be one of the catering industry's biggest enemies, but it makes sense to devote your resources to spicing up dessert menus. A strong, balanced choice will increase customer spend and stretch "dwell time", opening up the window of opportunity for upselling beverages such as coffee, tea, dessert wine and digestifs.
A comforting dessert is often preferred to a starter, particularly as calorie-counting becomes more prevalent, with health-conscious diners favouring two courses over three. Increasingly, the proof really is in the pudding.
Kate Sykes, marketing manager at Lantmännen Unibake UK, says delicate, smaller desserts, such as Portuguese custard tarts, enjoyed with a hot beverage, give consumers a way to enjoy a treat in moderation for 'me time' or as part of a social occasion. Its Schulstad Bakery Solutions Portuguese tarts are produced near Lisbon to a traditional recipe.With size in mind, the company also launched a Mini Signature Selection dessert-inspired range of Danish pastries, including lemon cheesecake coronet, strawberry shortcake crown, salted caramel plait, toasted coconut swirl and cherry chocolate coronet.
Less is s'mores
American classics continue to influence UK appetites, from burgers to barbecue, and desserts are no exception. CSM Bakery Solutions is embracing the homespun lure of cookie culture. "From warm cookie dough dessert to cookie marshmallow sandwiches, there are a variety of choices," says Barbara Lunnon, CSM product marketing director for cookies, minis and brownies. "Presentation is key as they can really create a wow moment when they are served.
"Trends in the extremes of cold and hot served together are a real delight, exciting palates and enticing customers back for more. Warm cookies, fresh out of the oven, and ice-cold ice-cream are a match made in heaven. The marshmallow sandwich is a must.
Marshmallow is a big trend for 2018 and 2019. Pair up soft, pillowy flavours with crunchy, chewy cookies, adding flavour and texture in different ways to yummy sandwiches. Char the marshmallow and add a touch of chocolate and you have created a s'mores cookie."
The zing's the thing
At Brioche Pasquier, it is all about French-inspired entremets - rich, elegant, tiered desserts that can be sliced easily into small, bite-sized portions to match the trend for mini-puddings.
Jon Turonnet, Brioche Pasquier's foodservice sales manager, says the range has proved so popular it will be extended in 2019 with new, as yet unconfirmed, flavours. Perhaps we should read something into his prediction that desserts will become lighter and fruitier, and citrus-forward in particular, next year.
"While fruits of all sorts, from blackberry to guava will be popular, lemon, lime and orange are set to be the flavours which really stand out, due to the sharpness of citrus, which helps to offset the sugary sweetness of many desserts," explains Turonnet.
"In a market which is increasingly looking for lighter, fresher sweet treats, citrus gives us a bright alternative. We've looked ahead to next year and, demonstrating confidence in our prediction, we have tweaked our popular Notes Gourmandes macarons range to tie in with these new flavour notes."
Other top tips for 2019 include lemon curd, coconut, and seed and nut toppings.
Winter is coming
Keeping desserts on-trend is simple with a few small changes, according to Anna Sentance, gourmet marketing manager at Callebaut UK and Ireland. Winter favourites such as soufflês and fondants are popular this season, with chocolate playing a significant part in dessert menus. Sentance suggests adding Callebaut's warm chocolate ale cake to menus for the perfect autumn/winter offering.
Ice-cream flavours continue to diversify, with matcha green tea, dark chocolate, and gingerbread and salted honey increasingly popular. Callebaut's Sundae Parlour is an option to add to a dessert menu and goes hand in hand with Callebaut's "real chocolate sauce" as a topping to drizzle over ice-cream. Sentence says: "Serving dishes with a range of textures, such as a soft vanilla sponge cake with tough peanut butter brittle, can create a sense of indulgence and add a touch of luxury to your menu."
Suncream Dairies is launching Italian-style Gelato Gold winter-spiced fruit ice-cream for the festive season. Made with fresh double cream, it contains raisins, sultanas and currants, glacê cherries, candied mixed fruit peel and a hint of mixed spices and cinnamon. Rebecca Manfredi, managing director of Suncream, says: "It's perfect as a standalone dessert or when added to hot mince pies or Christmas pudding. It's a decadent take on the traditional Christmas favourites."
All flavours in Suncream's Gelato Gold range are suitable for vegetarians and come in five-litre resealable tubs, containing around 45 scoops.
Take a bite of nostalgia
If mother knows best, granny may know better, suggests Rachel Cook, category manager for bakery and desserts at Bidfood.
"Driven by the concept that food can trigger an emotional response - such as reminding us of our childhood or offering a feeling of comfort and familiarity - there's a growing trend for nostalgic dishes," she says. "In fact, OpenÂTable recently revealed that jelly and ice-cream topped the list of the UK's favourite dishes disappearing from restaurant menus, and 37% of diners would opt for Angel Delight when looking for a throwback dish.
"With certified classics such as sticky toffee pudding, cheesecake, and bread and butter pudding having stood the test of time on menus, the demand for old favourites is by no means dying out. However, innovation in the dessert arena is equally influential. Fusion dishes are born from a desire to enjoy something new and exciting, yet familiar and recognisable. Many products and menus are being developed to revitalise traditional dishes with new trends, experimental cooking techniques or influences from world cuisines."
Inspired by the rise of contemporary Indian flavours, Bidfood has created a fusion range including cinnamon and sultana bread and butter pudding, and a gooey chocolate and cardamom pudding.
Indian influences can also be seen in Bidfood's Premium Selection range, such as a multilayered chai latte cake, with ginger, chai-spiced and lemon and Earl Grey sponges, sandwiched with caramel and buttercream.
Back to nature
With healthy eating at the top of the agenda, caterers are experimenting with refined sugar replacements to provide natural sweetness while satisfying cravings for indulgence, according to David Colcombe, UK chef ambassador for Maple from Canada. "Tapping into your customers' positive perceptions of naturalness can add value to menus, as they will seek out dishes that are made with natural ingredients that have a back story," he says.
"Previously just seen as a breakfast ingredient, maple syrup is now one of the food industry's nutritional superheroes and offers chefs and caterers a flavoursome sweet tone that can be used in a variety of dessert applications.
"It pays to go pure, though, as 100% pure Canadian maple syrup gives a depth of flavour that cheaper blended products do not. Being able to make healthier claims about the sugar you have used as well as the provenance of 100% pure Canadian maple syrup also endorses your restaurant's commitment to quality ingredients."
With this in mind, a maple 'freakshake' will transport customers back to their childhood and memories of seaside trips. Hot maple syrup is used to make layers with fresh fruit and ice-cream; it's quick, tasty and natural.
Love Taste Co shake mix gives operators a base for extravagant shake builds. The frozen sachets contain vanilla shake pellets and ice and can be blended with a choice of milk for an indulgent dessert that is ready in 30 seconds. Serve up a 'peanut butter frenzy' by mixing the base with a generous spoonful of peanut butter and serve with cream, chocolate chips, marshmallows and more peanut butter.
Be bold, be swavoury
With the trend for Instagrammable food showing no sign of slowing, Aryzta Food Solutions has noted a preferences for bold colours in 2018, particularly purple, blue, black and red. For desserts, think blueberry breads, raspberry-filled pastries and brightly coloured 'crazy' doughnuts.
Aryzta's trade marketing manager Paul Maxwell highlights the spread of sweet and savoury flavour combinations. "With 25% of UK consumers interested in savoury products that include sweet ingredients, there is a clear opportunity for caterers to profit," he says. "We've seen the trend for dessert pizzas in particular gain traction in the UK this year, with Mintel confirming that 21% of UK consumers would be interested in trying sweet pizzas. Caterers looking to tap into this 'swavoury' trend can look to Aryzta's white sourdough dough sheet or pizza base for a delicious and convenient pizza base, and add myriad sweet toppings, including Aryzta's white chocolate cookie pucks, raspberry purêe and white chocolate buttons."
Popular boozy flavours work well in ice-cream and sorbets, and combine the indulgence of a cocktail and a dessert in one hit, says Christina Veal, director at New Forest Ice Cream. New Forest's latest flavours include a whisky and orange ice-cream, which features a traditional dairy base infused with single malt whisky and citrus undertones from orange zest. A sharp and sweet gin and pink grapefruit sorbet combines local Hampshire craft distillery Twisted Nose gin with vibrant pink grapefruit.
Everyone loves a tart with a sweet heart. "A buttery pastry base filled with rich chocolate ganache and a hint of sea salt is a simple yet indulgent dessert," says Fabien Levet, national account manager for foodservice at Pidy UK. "To keep things trendy, simply add a scoop of bergamot orange ice-cream to tie in the trend for exotic flavours."
Aryzta Food Solutions
CSM Bakery Solutions
Love Taste Co
Maple from Canada
New Forest Ice Cream
www.newforesticecream.com 01590 647611
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