Diners are dreaming of summer holiday flavours, so offer up a little taste of luxury in the form of petite chocolate creations, refreshing fruit flavours and pastries to go. Lisa Jenkins samples what's new to the market.
Claire Clark and Sarah Crouchman of pâtisserie catering service Pretty Sweet take trends very seriously. Inspiration comes from gardens, fashion, textiles or art – anything. "As crazy as it sounds, I also dream of pâtisserie combinations. I literally eat, sleep and dream my profession," says Clark. "Textures, prints and colours are easy to create with pâtisserie – it's just a matter of how you use the ingredients."
Clark and Crouchman have been tailoring their offering to fit in with the growing adoption of plant-based, low-sugar and gluten-free diets. "Baking is a science. It takes time and patience to understand the ingredients and how they work together. There have been many failures," admits Clark.
Pretty Sweet's new range of afternoon tea confections use Zùsto, a sugar substitute, and include a vegan macaroon and a plant-based gin and tonic cupcake. "It was important to have a product that would appeal to the British public: a twist on an iconic drink; reinvented in cake form and hitting the plant-based trend," explains Clark. The G&T cupcake is a lime-based sponge, hollowed out and filled with lemon curd and topped with a lime buttercream. It comes served with a pipette of gin that you squeeze into the cake when you are ready to eat.
"Developing recipes like this is not as simple as just substituting sugar for Zùsto. The sugar must be kept away from the fat, which is unconventional in traditional methods of making sponges and pastry," adds Clark.
The company has also created its own take on Instagram sensation the tsunami cake, where molten icing is contained within a plastic cylinder before being released to flow over the cake. "The great thing about it is that although it's an Instagrammable moment, it is visually impressive, while still retaining all the important flavours, textures and taste associated with high-class pâtisserie," she says.
Sarah Frankland, head pastry chef at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot, Surrey, believes that desserts will have more of a British focus – just as they are planning for their new restaurant concept Hillfield. "We started working on new dishes over a year ago on the pastry side, and I'm also using a British flour. We have amazing produce here in the UK," she says.
Samantha Rain, development chef for ingredients distributor Henley Bridge, says: "As people look ahead to the summer months and dream of holidays abroad, tropical flavours will be coming to the fore. If we can't jet away to warmer climes because of the pandemic, at least we can enjoy the flavours of the Caribbean back in the UK.
"Desserts tend to be lighter during summer as people look for refreshing, fruity flavours, so I created a white chocolate and passion fruit mousse with a raspberry gel centre. I dipped the mousse in passion fruit jelly, made using Sosa Freeze Veggie Gel, and topped with a raspberry. I serve three on a plate with passion fruit gel.
"Operators should also cater well for the growing number of diners requesting vegan options. Try making your own vegan lemon and lime gelato using Rubicone vegan base mix and flavourings from the Irca Joygelato range, for a cool, zingy treat."
The spring and summer collection from Traiteur de Paris incorporates new products such as the red berries cheesecake, mango coco pie and lemon meringue pie. All offer a lighter end to the meal and have a secondary shelf life of 72 hours after defrosting, consequently limiting waste.
Cocoa powder supplier Dezaan predicts that customers will be looking for flavour profiles that vary from mild and fruity to velvety and rich in their chocolate desserts.
Simon Brayn-Smith, vice-president of Dezaan, says: "With long summer days meaning we'll all hopefully be spending more time outdoors, takeaway-friendly desserts are a must. Think easy-to-hold sweet treats that can be eaten on the go that are, most importantly, delivery-proof."
He cites desserts such as whoopie pies, mini eclairs, macarons and churros as options. "Classics can be updated with new and bold flavours, and we love the citrus notes of our True Dark cocoa powder with yuzu in chocolate macarons."
Brayn-Smith says alcohol is no longer just for cocktails, Christmas cake and tiramisù: "Gin, with its mix of botanical and citrus notes, is a go-to for summer, and rum, with its dark smoky flavours, is finding its way into chocolate desserts."
Anna Sentance, gourmet marketing manager at Callebaut UK and Ireland, says that "chocolate sells all day long". Its recent dessert report highlighted that 52% of consumers in coffee shops accompany their drink purchase with a pastry mid-morning, meaning the trend towards consuming sweeter options for breakfast is continuing to grow. "Once seen as exclusively an after-dinner treat, sweeter choices have become much more inclusive, with consumers choosing more indulgent items across the whole day," says Sentance.
French pâtissier Tipiak has launched a new range of French chocolate petits fours for the foodservice sector in the UK. The ‘thaw and serve' selection includes chocolate and feuilletine squares, tonka-flavoured financiers, milk chocolate and coconut shortbreads, and chocolate and raspberry cakes.
Marie-Emmanuelle Chessé, international development project manager at Tipiak, says: "Chocolate is a flavour that's always in fashion. The beauty of our petits fours is that they can be served in a variety of ways – as part of an afternoon tea, with a coffee as a café gourmand, to round off a meal, or as part of a trio of mini desserts, which is a popular way of offering diners a lighter choice and appeals to those with smaller appetites or those who are looking to indulge without guilt."
Recent consumer research from bakery supplier Brioche Pasquier found that rich, indulgent flavours are still top with the 16-34 age group, and chocolate, caramel and coffee continue to win hearts. "Desserts like our tartelette au chocolat, a buttery shortcrust pastry filled with a rich, dark chocolate filling and a thin layer of caramel, fits the bill perfectly," says Matthew Grenter, sales manager for Brioche Pasquier.
"Interestingly, as consumers age, fruity flavours increase in popularity, with citrus a firm favourite with the 65-plus age group."
Grab and go
St Pierre's On the Go range of bakery treats include a butter croissant, chocolate-filled croissant, pain au chocolat, caramel waffles, millionaires' waffle and brioche waffle, all individually wrapped for convenience and hygiene. Scott Oakes, commercial manager for St Pierre, suggests that all the products can be sold separately as impulse purchases to go, or used to create a host of flexible, added-value desserts. "Try a brioche waffle with honey, yogurt and fresh berries," he suggests.
"The rise of food and drink to go is perhaps no surprise considering the way in which many operators have been forced to pivot and develop a better takeaway service during the Covid-19 restrictions," he says. "Kantar figures show that there was a 13% rise in take-home hot beverages in the 12 weeks to 12 July 2020, which goes some way to show the popularity of takeaway purchases during the peak of the restrictions.
"However, this was already a category on the up well before the first case of coronavirus. Even in 2019, analysts IGD forecasted 26.4% growth for food to go between 2019 and 2024, up from £18.5b to £23.4b. That's double the growth of the wider UK food and grocery market," adds Oakes.
Zareen Deboo, foodservice channel operations manager at Ferrero UK & Ireland, insists that a trend that is showing no sign of slowing down is the consumer desire for branded bakes: "Updating your sweet treats with Nutella is an easy way to stay ahead of the game and boost sales. In fact, independent research shows that big brands have a big impact on profits too: a phenomenal 84% of consumers would pay extra if they saw that Nutella was on offer."
Deboo suggests that caterers tap into this trend with the Nutella 1kg piping bag.
Dietary restrictions shouldn't get in the way of sweet treats, believes Traiteur de Paris, and its chocolate and cranberry cake is free from lactose, egg and gluten "with a recipe that stands out thanks to the original combination of 58% cocoa dark chocolate and cranberries," says Robert Preece, director of sales UK & Ireland. Traiteur de Paris has also developed a vegan financier cake with almonds and raspberries and decorated with pumpkin seeds, as well as a melt in the middle gluten-free chocolate fondant.
The Dezaan cocoa range is 100% vegan, "so your best-selling chocolate-based desserts can get some plant appeal simply by swapping out your dairy and chocolate for alternatives," says Brayn-Smith. "From coconut milk to nut butters, you may need to experiment, but once you have perfected your core recipe, there's no limit to what you can do."
Sentance at Callebaut says that according to its research, 15% of consumers say they would be more likely to order a dessert that is vegan, and 69% of consumers would be neither more or less likely to order a dessert if it was vegan, "proving that these options can appeal to the majority of diners and mean that caterers can suit many requirements with one dish," she says.
French bakery manufacturer Bridor has brought the importance of fibre into the spotlight, with the launch of l'Amibiote multifibre bread – a recipe with sourdough composed of seven types of fibre.
Erwan Inizan, UK sales director at Bridor, says: "The development of l'Amibiote over the past four years represents the company's ongoing commitment to producing ‘better for you' bakery products. Having a fibre-rich dietary staple available in an accessible, everyday format that appeals to consumers of all ages is very important to us, and is something we're very excited to see flourish."
The baguette is also available in a seeded variant and in a loaf format and can be adapted to other formats on demand.
So indulge your customers' need for a sweet treat, as Brayn-Smith says: "Beautiful, luxurious desserts that are worth indulging in are key. It's about stunning layers, decoration and new and exciting flavour profiles. We all know that ‘we eat with our eyes', and desserts are a great way for chefs to showcase their skills and drive business."
Arôme, the Yards, Covent Garden, London
Bakery Arôme has opened its first bricks-and-mortar site in the Yards in Covent Garden after a successful pop-up in Soho in 2020.
The bakery has been created by pâtissier Alix Andre and is backed by restaurateur Ellen Chew's Chew-On-This group. The brand's minialistic debut space was designed by the group's in-house team.
Arôme uses traditional French baking techniques to create recipes with Asian-influenced ingredients. Menu items include the gula melaka coconut twist, a pastry with palm sugar and desiccated coconut; apple miso Danish, thinly sliced apples brushed with miso caramel on laminated pastry; and its signature bake, Arôme honey butter toast, a thick slice of shokupan (Japanese milk bread) with a crunchy honey crust.
Café de Nata, Camden High Street, London
Portuguese tart specialist Café de Nata has opened at Camden Market in London, joining its other cafés in Hammersmith, Soho and South Kensington.
The site serves 12 covers and customers are able to view the tarts being hand-baked via an open kitchen display, beneath a large mural symbolising Portuguese culture, heritage and history.
The freshly baked natas are available in seven flavours, including cinnamon, chocolate and blueberry.
Traiteur de Pariswww.traiteurdeparis.com
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