What are the advantages of serving desserts “made in house?”
Speaking for myself, when I eat out I almost never skip dessert. I call it “research” since it’s what I do for a living, but the truth is, I just cannot resist my sweet tooth. But, when I go out, I do always ask, “Is it made in house?” This inspires me to order multiple desserts for the table. If the answer is “no” I still inquire and if I find it is provided by a local baker, I dig in.
What are some options if you do not have a pastry chef on staff?
I understand the challenges that preparing a dessert in house may present. Not all operations have the luxury of having a pastry chef on staff. In that case, it’s always a good idea to partner with local purveyors of artisanal and handcrafted desserts. By collaborating with them, you provide a sense of community and they are usually experts in their craft. Do-it-yourself desserts are also a great idea when a pastry chef is not in house. Items like DIY s’mores at the table create enthusiasm for the guest and they own the craftsmanship. Just make sure all the ingredients are the best quality possible.
What are some global trends you are seeing in desserts?
We see lots of globally influenced items appearing on menus in all kinds of operations. One great example is sweet empanadas. These are great portable snacks that fast food restaurants can incorporate into their menus. These sweet empanadas can be filled with guava and cheese or pastry cream. Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian influences are finding their ways into a variety of desserts. Consider integrating international flavors and ingredients like masala chai and panettone, chiles and cajeta…the possibilities are endless.
Are mini desserts still in demand?
The popularity of mini desserts and individual portioned desserts hasn’t seemed to wane at all. They’re a great way to inspire people to sample or share, and they also allow chefs to experiment with things like integrating retro flavors. For example, the pineapple upside down cake makes for a great mini cake. We’re not talking cupcakes, but traditional cakes in a mini presentation. A big trend right now is dessert in a cup. We see many extreme, elaborated desserts and milkshakes making their ways onto menus and, even more so, onto Instagram®.
What suggestions do you have for appealing to diners who might not be inclined to order dessert?
A better for you ingredients approach is a great way to entice those who may feel guilty indulging. Think using seasonal fruits, grains and nuts. With fresh and natural ingredients, guests can satisfy their sweet tooth without compromising on health and nutrition. Also, offering mini desserts are another way to tempt those looking to control their portions of indulgence.
You can help ensure a party at a table doesn’t pass on dessert because of one naysayer. Make sure you have a few options that aren’t necessarily super sweet. A savory/sweet or salty/sweet treat can be an option. Desserts that use more smoked flavors and colorful herbs and vegetables are also becoming on-trend. In addition, a tray of cheese with candied nuts and a fig compote can add elegance to your dessert menu.