The Final Proof: Turn Up the Heat
Consider spicing up your products to match the demand for more exotic flare.
By Jane Dummer
As ethnic trends continue to become popular more and more people are enjoying spicier foods. Consumers are willing to explore new options based on their travels and their desire for twists on their usual favourites.
As people experience other cultures, they demand more ethnically-inspired food sensations, including heat. Artisan bakers can easily bridge the gap from traditional flavours to interesting, bolder, tastes to meet consumers’ inquisitive and traveled taste buds.
These bakers are exploring the addition of fiery and bold flavours from chipotle apricot tea biscuits to chocolate cayenne sourdough bread. Canadians are crazy over macarons with fruity and nutty flavours. Now, there is an opportunity to update sweet fillings with heat. Lisa Sanguedolce, owner of Le Dolci in Toronto agrees, “Our chocolate and cayenne macarons are one of our best sellers, and our head baker, Sharon, is always experimenting in the kitchen with flavour combinations for the filling. She and her husband recently visited Costa Rica, and she brought some spicy ideas back from her travels. Her chocolate and chilli macaron has a lovely hint of cayenne that stays with you for a long while after you’ve enjoyed it.”
Over past 10 years we have seen the commercial blending of fruit or citrus and spices in sauces, marinades and even Sriracha mango yogurt! Few ingredients can highlight a food like the wide range of flavour and heat profiles found in chili peppers, from mild and sweet to red hot and bold. Belinda Elysee-Collen, account manager at Dempsey Corporation, explains, “Bakery is the next logical place for heat to be added. When spice is added to sweet, the level of heat is mitigated and allows the true spice taste to be appreciated without the burning feeling.
“This trend is in its infancy for the large bakeries. Food formulators are starting to play with their recipes and see where they might liven up their traditional brands; however we have not seen a lot of commercialization yet.
“We recommend looking for depth of flavour, and layering techniques that is possible using aged chilies. For example, Louisiana Hot sauce from Southeastern Mills is blended from authentic long cayenne peppers that are sun-ripened, carefully selected, and handpicked. The peppers are aged for at least one year, to produce a savoury sauce that is not too hot, and yet not too mild.”
Will things continue to heat up? Sanguedolce and Elysee-Collen agree that the trend in baking is heating up and will continue for both the artisan and the mainstream bakeries. Sanguedolce identifies, “We make a chili and double dark chocolate cookie that is a hit. Many of our customers are looking for more punch, like they are used to in their home cooking, and find some retail outlets say spicy but don’t actually deliver. I recently advised a small start-up on making various levels of heat for clientele of different palates. So a mild option for those that want to try it without being overwhelmed by the spice and a medium and spicy level for those that want a little more kick or the real deal. It’s also fun for customers to try and push their limits when they see different levels of spice. One week they may visit and purchase the mild and then come back the next to test out the next level.”
When it comes to the mainstream segment of the baking sector, finding the right bridge that offers the perfect balance between sweet and heat is important. Elysee-Collen recommends, “We feel that consumers will be looking for a subtle kick in new spicy, hot flavours. As the trend develops and spreads into conventional retailers, the heat intensity will increase in offerings as consumers become familiar with the new flavours. Another trend to look out for is the addition of spicy inclusions as another way to provide heat to baked goods.”
Consumers are becoming increasingly diverse in their tastes and priorities, and not only demand new flavours but experiences. It’s the perfect time for bakers to jump on this trend and turn up the heat on traditional favourites to create spicy sweet goodness to satisfy their consumers’ worldly palettes.
Jane Dummer, RD (www.janedummer.com), known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.