Bakers Journal

Top 10 holiday treats

November 22, 2011
By Brandi Cowen

Tis the season for tasty treats and get-togethers with family, friends
and colleagues. To keep your business hot, even when the weather outside
is not, Bakers Journal brings you the 10 biggest trends for the holiday


Tis the season for tasty treats and get-togethers with family, friends and colleagues. To keep your business hot, even when the weather outside is not, Bakers Journal brings you the 10 biggest trends for the holiday season.

Bite-sized servings
Small will be big for the holidays, as consumers look to stretch their dollars without stretching their waistlines.

“The mini-dessert trend that first made its mark on menus a few years ago is really showing no signs of dying down,” says Lizzy Freier, assistant editor with the market research firm Technomic. “Because the holiday season is usually a time for overeating and overspending, consumers are likely to prefer these kinds of mini-dessert options, where the calories and the spending dollars are both kept at a minimum.”


Flavour fusions
This year, traditional holiday flavours such as cinnamon, eggnog, gingerbread, mint and cranberry will be as popular as ever. But mixing and matching types of flavours will also be big, especially among adventurous consumers seeking new taste experiences.

“Experimenting with smoky, savoury and herbal – either individually or together – could be interesting,” says Freier. She points to the trend toward combining sweet and salty as one to watch, especially when it comes to salted caramel.

This trend will also be at play in the world of chocolate, as chocolatiers pair their main medium with a variety of other flavours.

Master chocolatier Derrick Tu Tan Pho says salted caramel has been big for the past four or five years, and is going to get bigger. “You’re going to see caramel with a lot of different sea salts,” he advises.

Other sweet and savoury combinations are poised to be popular too. Pho says one chocolatier in the United States has taken this trend to the extreme, offering a savoury ham and egg breakfast truffle, with bacon as an optional additional ingredient.

Fruity and floral chocolate
Chocolatiers are fusing fruit and flowers to create new flavours that can be incorporated into their chocolate. “For example, passion fruit and lavender, and lemon and violet, are going to be big for Christmas,” says Pho.

Infusing chocolate with various herbal teas is another way to incorporate the trend.

Playing with pairings
“We’ve always had dessert wines paired with baked goods, but beer pairings have also started becoming a lot more popular,” says Freier. The fact that beer has become “a little bit heavier and can also be a little warmer” is helping to drive this trend.

Freier notes that beers can add a lot of flavour to the foods they’re paired with, offering up a new taste experience even when munching on a favourite holiday treat. However, like other liquor, beer can also be incorporated into the product itself, giving it an entirely new flavour.

Bite-sized treats will continue to be a big hit with customers this holiday season. Paring down into portions for two is also making headway as customers seek out such items as cakelets. 

Handcrafted for the holidays
“The trend is going to be not moulding anymore, but assembling,” says Pho. “That means you may have a Santa Claus, but they’re not going to assemble the Santa Claus with one mould; they’re going to use two or three moulds to make that Santa Claus.”

Pho adds that some chocolatiers will be taking this trend one step further.

“They’re going to be getting into hand-made, handcrafted more than moulding,” he says, noting that this trend is really gaining ground in Quebec and in Europe.

Catering to health
At a time usually characterized as a season of overindulgence, healthy (or at least, healthier) products appeal to customers trying to watch their waistlines or manage a health condition.

“More consumers are looking for items that convey a sort of health halo, so seasonal, fresh, local, organic – those things are becoming a lot more popular, but gluten-free, cholesterol-free and low sodium are all gaining ground,” says Freier.

Exploring origins
“Chocolate has origin now. You’re going to see chocolate with one single origin, coming from one specific country or area,” says Pho. “With vanilla, you’re seeing the same thing.”

These single-origin products allow chocolatiers to create authentic gastronomic delights associated with a particular region of the world. They can also craft treats that pair origin chocolates and vanillas that have complementary qualities, adding a wider range of flavours to their products.

Sea salt is another ingredient enjoying greater recognition of the differences between salts from different areas.

Cupcake craze continues
Although many trend-spotters have predicted the end of the cupcake craze, the evidence collected by Technomic suggests otherwise. These small indulgences are poised to perform well through the holidays and beyond.

Freier notes that cupcakes tap into the mini trend, as well as the trend toward healthier eating, offering a lower-cost, lower-calorie option than a full cake.

Growing popularity for whoopie pies
These fun frosting sandwiches have been gaining ground all year. Dressing them up for the holidays can transform this anytime treat into a seasonal favourite.

Freier suggests gingerbread-, mint- or pumpkin-flavoured pies as festive options that follow popular holiday flavour trends. Offering red or green whoopie pies, or embellishing them with other seasonal elements (for example, candy cane pieces), is another way to serve up a holiday party crowd-pleaser. 

A glass of dessert
Food-savvy consumers know a lot of time and effort go into crafting their desserts, and they want to see it. That desire is driving the trend toward serving treats in glass jars.

“They’ve been a trendy method for food presentation for various food items recently,” says Freier. “They provide a layering method so that the customer can see the effort put forward in the product and the various things incorporated into the dessert.”

Presenting a dessert in a shot glass, rather than a jar still allows you to show off your creation while at the same time offering a smaller portion size.

Keep these trends in mind and enjoy a holly, jolly holiday season at your bakery.

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