Sponsored by Bistro Collection®
During the post-holiday season when consumers simply cannot eat one more peppermint bark or gingerbread cookie, operators rely on different flavors and lighter presentations to entice customers to choose a dessert.
For those operators looking to lure consumers with tasty dessert solutions that also can help to save on labor costs associated with preparing desserts in-house, suppliers such as Bistro Collection, with its four new Gourmet Brownies and Dessert Bar flavors, offer solutions to meet this consumer demand. The Dessert Bars, available in Brown Butter Bourbon Bar, S’mores Brownie, Pecan Carmelita and Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Bar, are a perfect size for individual portions, shareable dessert flights and also work well To Go for today’s on-the-move consumer.
Some flavors are on-trend all year. According to Chicago-based research firm Datassential, chocolate is consumers’ favorite flavor in nearly every dessert category, while chocolate varieties within each dessert category have exhibited growth over the past four years.
Jackie Rodriguez, Datassential senior project manager, says some flavors are gaining in popularity. “Overall trending dessert flavors include salted caramel, jam/jelly, affogato and coconut,” she says. “Savory flavors like olive oil, bacon, pretzel, cardamom and bourbon are showing double-digit growth as well.”
In noncommercial operations some of the big dessert trends can be linked to nutrition and dietary concerns. “Mini portions of cakes and cheesecakes are much more common, reflecting perhaps both a desire to limit portion size as well as the fact that lunch is the largest daypart for desserts for on-site operators — customers are less likely to be indulging on their lunch hour or dining in a group for easy sharing,” she says.
Individual desserts are a good bet, says Chris Ivens-Brown, senior vice president of culinary development for Eurest. “The smaller, the better, going into the New Year,” he says. “It’s more bite-size lemon bars, cookies, warm mini brownies with a side of tropical fruit salad. People feel they are getting a little something.”
Some corporate dining clients have recharge stations for workers to regain energy by indulging in brownies, power drinks and even make-your-own s’mores. “The perception is they are getting a sneaky treat,” Ivens-Brown says. “Everyone needs a sugar rush.”
People tend to want lighter desserts when the new year starts, says John C. Metz Jr., chief executive and executive chef at Sterling Spoon Culinary Management. “But people still need something a little sweet at some point during a meal.”
One trend is fresh seasonal fruit desserts, such as berries with fresh herbs or balsamic vinegars, which contain fewer calories than traditional sweeteners and can enhance the natural sugars in the fruits. “People like to treat themselves for a job well done or for their hard work as much as they can,” Metz says.
Sometimes students prefer large brownies or bars, says Phillip Yates, executive chef for University Dining Services at Oklahoma State University. “They can get a bite of it, then take it to their dorm and eat it later,” he says. “They eat it in small portions and get two or three desserts. Students still want the value for what they’re paying.”
Yates says another dessert trend centers on ethnic flavors, but with a familiar presentation. For example, the Banana Puff Puffs at OSU are an Americanized version of a dessert popular in some African countries, and consist of warm donuts with chocolate sauce.
OSU also offers catering, and those guests want more nostalgic flavors. Yates says one big hit is the OSU Dreamsicle, a panna cotta and orange cream variation of the iconic orange frozen novelty. There is also a variation of a mini Drumstick ice cream cone, with ganache, and white chocolate truffle instead of ice cream, so it can be served refrigerated, not frozen, and the outside is coated with nuts.
In January consumers typically transition away from desserts that remind them of grandma’s kitchen, says Jeffrey Quasha, corporate R&D chef for Morrison Healthcare. “Now we want heart healthy, natural nutrients,” he says. One popular item combines chia seeds and coconut milk, in a berry parfait with agave. “It’s still comfort food but healthier.” Mini pies in strawberry, pecan or banana cream with a graham cracker crust are also strong sellers.
The season is also a good time to use leftover holiday ingredients. At Georgia Tech, the house-made Seven Layer Bar is sweet and hearty, says Katherine Benson, executive pastry chef. “Although it consists of some traditional holiday ingredients, it is very different from the standard pies and cakes that many overindulge in during the holiday season,” she says.
Seven Layer Bar ingredients include dried cranberries or another fruit element, coconut, butterscotch candies, chocolate chips, graham crackers and cookies. “It speaks to the trend of a reduced calorie dessert option, totaling only 190 calories per serving size,” Benson says. “It is also nut free and flavorful, repurposing dried cranberries and other fruit from holiday celebrations.”
Other flavors are trending too. Also according to Datassential, nut brownies are the third fastest growing variety, with 25 percent growth over the past year. Bourbon has grown by 167 percent on leading dessert menus since 2014.
Save time and labor back of house with the latest Bistro Collection on-trend gourmet dessert solutions. Bistro Collection is showcasing four new gourmet brownies and dessert bars. They are:
- Brown Butter Bourbon Bar — Moist and gooey brown butter bourbon cake layer studded with pecans and soaked in a bourbon syrup atop sea salt brown butter cookie crumb crust, flavored with a sweet bourbon drizzle.
- S’mores Brownie — Rich milk chocolate chunk brownie studded with marshmallows on a graham cracker crumb crust with a marshmallow drizzle and graham sprinkle.
- Pecan Carmelita — Rich caramel sandwiched between layers of sweet, crunchy oats, decorated with pecans, dark chocolate chunks and a delicate caramel drizzle.
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Bar — Peanut butter cookie crumb crust layered with a dark chocolate brownie studded with chocolate chunks, topped with peanut butter mousse and drizzled with rich dark chocolate.
Bistro Collection has more information, and an app download, at www.bistrogourmetbakery.com.