Bakers Journal

Top 10 dessert trends

May 31, 2011
By Bakers Journal

May 31, 2011, Chicago – The Food Channel has unveiled this year’s top 10 dessert trends.

“When we took a look at how people are consuming dessert, one thing became clear: our tastes are evolving and becoming more educated,” said Kay Logsdon, editor of The Food Channel. “We see society trending toward a more casual – and less stuffy – lifestyle. On one hand, we demand less processed foods and cleaner labels, but we still allow ourselves to indulge in sweet little rewards that get us through the day.”

The Food Channel's top 10 dessert trends are:

The next cupcake is… Everyone wants to identify the next big thing in baking and dethrone the mighty cupcake as the trend du jour. It’s time to accept that the cupcake has gone from fad to trend to icon. Today we’re seeing cupcake fondue, un-iced versions, savoury varieties, flaming cupcakes and shapes that are fat, skinny and mini. We’re even seeing cupcakes on a stick. In short, the next cupcake is still a cupcake.

Sweet, heat, salty and tart Our taste for dessert is evolving. It doesn’t always have to be sugary sweet. Lots of sweets are packing heat from peppers and fiery spices. Salty-sweet also continues to be a popular flavour combination. People trying to cut back on sodium may be satisfying their cravings for salt by getting a little taste of it with salty-sweet candies and desserts. Many people are also trying to curb their sugar intake, opting for fruit-based desserts that are as tart as they are sweet.

Wedding cake off the guest list The three-tiered cake is starting to get eighty-sixed. It may seem like a sacrilege, but for a growing number of brides and grooms, creativity now trumps tradition. The old-fashioned cake is being replaced with a cheesecake bar, strawberry shortcakes, or a table full of pies or gourmet doughnuts. Among the most popular new choices today are macaroons, cake pops and ice cream floats. This is part of an overall trend toward a more casual and less stuffy lifestyle.

Behold the power of protein People are looking for more than a sugar buzz from desserts. They’re craving a protein boost, whether it’s from a fortified smoothie or a sweet cheese nibble from Laughing Cow. Responding to European influences, some mid-scale restaurants are starting to offer up cheese trays as part of the dessert course, sometimes paired with fresh fruit or a bite of chocolate. Protein-rich Greek yogurt is being used as a topping with fresh fruit, and things like egg custard are getting more play.

Desserts for grownups
Call this trend the maturing of America’s sweet tooth. Milkshakes with a splash of rum, wine paired up with gelato, and beer partnered with donuts are popping up on dessert menus. Restaurants are also offering liquor add-ons to chocolate desserts to boost check averages and offer the guest a little something extra.

Whole grains and no grains
Whole grains are huge. Brown rice puddings, oatmeal crisp dessert toppings, and pies made with whole grain crust are gaining ground. On the flip side, there are those who, due to restricted diets, need to avoid grains. Gluten free is on nearly every menu now, or will be soon. It’s become a trendy call-out, and the dessert selection goes way beyond flourless cake.

Desserts in the raw
The raw foods movement has entered the dessert realm. You can find raw and vegan versions of cupcakes, cheesecakes, ice cream cakes, moon pies and tiramisu. There’s a demand for foods — desserts included — that undergo less processing.

A touch of sweetness all day long This trend is about frequency, not quantity. In tough economic times, we seek to soothe ourselves with small rewards and little luxuries. Dessert is no longer about death-by-chocolate over indulgence; it’s about sweet little rewards that help get us through the day.

A hint of floral Subtle hints of floral have begun to sprout up in the dessert category. We’re seeing lavender in cupcakes and macarons. Lavender syrups, and lavender-infused sugars in teas and yogurts are offered in some restaurants. Edible flowers, always popular as a garnish, are coming back in vogue as part of the aromatic and flavor experience.

Dessert theatrics We all enjoy a little tableside theater when we’re dining at a nice restaurant. The trend toward dessert theatre began with tableside s’mores, and Bananas Foster. Now we’re seeing egg creams. At Chicago’s Alinea, staff arrange an array of dessert ingredients on the table and guests complete and customize their dish. It’s dessert theater at its best.

The Food Channel also predicts the end of shareable desserts, citing that going in with the same spoon for bite after bite has gotten old.

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