Pie remains one of the most requested dessert menu items for both onsite and commercial markets.
Chocolate remains one of the most popular dessert flavors— it's an essential dessert menu staple. Yet, today's onsite pastry chefs tell FM that on trendy menus, other flavors are rising in popularity.
Mouth puckering lemon, sensual vanilla, tantalizing tropicals and comforting apple (sweet, tart, chunky and smooth) are all becoming dessert sirens in their own right. (Never fear, chocoholics: we have two incredible chocolate recipes among those that follow, and are devoting a whole feature to that delicious little bean in the future!)
Fruit crisps and bars, frozen confections, international dessert adaptations, and more healthful options—all offering clean, clear flavors—seem to be the hallmark of dessert options today.
"The dessert 'trend' is to capture and keep customers with good flavor—it makes more of a lasting impression than anything else," says Randy Eastman, pastry chef at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
"Repeat customers are a challenge to entice. You can try your hardest to be creative but in the end customers tend to choose what's familiar. And it follows that they want the flavors they love in fresh new combinations," says Eastman.
Consider his Almond Fruit Cake: dried fruit (cherries, apricots and figs) and pecans yield small yet mighty flavor notes within this delicous, delicately rum-laced, vanilla butter cake. Add the star anise-spiced Cabernet poached pears—a touch of international flavor—and you're sure to sell satisfaction.
Desserts often steal the show and with a name like Ringling, customers can expect to be wowed! At the Ringling (art) Museum in Orlando, FL, slated to open this spring, Claude Broome, Guest Services area chef/executive chef for dining services there, does not clown around. He has developed refreshing fruit gelatos, sorbets and granitas they'll be featuring in the new dining room at the visitor center (though he did have a lot of creative fun!).
"There's a misnomer that gelato means gelatin—it means 'traditional,' explains Broome. "We're following suit with some classic Italian desserts for our likewise-themed restaurant." Broome admits that being in Florida has influenced his menu toward 'the tropical,' and that the Mango Sorbet and Champange and Rasperry granita recipes that follow pay homage to his love of classic desserts with a modern, fullflavored fruit twist.
Speaking of satisfaction, all the pastry chefs spoke enthusiastically about incorporating more healthful touches into dessert fare. Most are using more fruit—fresh, dried, poached, baked, roasted; and adding more spices, in their dessert mix. Additionally, they're continually developing and fine-tuning low-fat and low-sugar confections (using sugar substitutes in some cases) in order to duplicate—or even improve upon the flavor of high-calorie originals.
"We marry home and health," says Chartwells Executive Chef Jim Bressi, whose recipes incorporate more homemade granola, yogurt and lower-fat (stabilized) cream sauces into desserts.
"Asian flavors have permeated the dessert scene, too," he says. "Fruits like lychee and mangosteen, and twists on healthy fruit sauces, such as the clever concoction of a blueberry ginger sauce, are popular now." For some wholesome " international" comfort, look to his Cuban Coconut Rice Pudding, made with non-fat milks and spiced with crystallized ginger, cinnamom and lemon zest.
To access the recipes that accompanied this article, click here: Dessert Recipes