Dessert has been having a tough time over the last decade. Often a rushed addendum slipped in right before the check is dropped off, it’s not considered part of a meal the way it once was. Meanwhile, dining out has become an everyday occurrence, the restaurant scene has exploded, and social media is obsessed with food. It’s time the classic dessert menu got an upgrade.
It’s time for Sweet Stuff 10.0.
Ensure your guests say ‘yes’ to dessert, by working the following eight qualities into your menu.
1. Throwback to the Good Ol’ Days
People love a hit of nostalgia. Full House has a new season, The Jungle Book remake is in theatres, and flared jeans are making yet another comeback. Everything old is new again. Build on your guest’s love of the past and bring back an element of days gone by. Put a creative spin on a Wagon Wheel, inject a hint of Nutella to top off a cake slice, or incorporate banana split flavors into a panna cotta or creme brulee.
2. Keep it Local & Seasonal
As with food trends across the board, dessert lovers are looking for locally sourced ingredients.
Design your dessert menu around fresh, seasonal foods available at the local farmer’s market. Think about featuring seasonal fresh fruits as pie fillings or making sweet syrups and jams to top ice cream or cakes. As well, find opportunities in the local community to partner with and promote local farmers, and remember to give them a shout-out on your menu.
3. Make it Good For You
When the word “healthy” comes up, some dessert lovers run the other way. But being conscious about the health value of dessert isn’t such a bad idea. Take a page from the clean eaters and incorporate all natural sweeteners into your sweet treats. Try replacing refined sugar or corn syrups with honey, natural maple syrup, agave nectar, or coconut palm sugar. Remember, dark chocolate and fresh fruits will turn up the sweet sensation without the problematic fat and sugar intake.
4. 2 Treats are Better Than 1
Sometimes the best way to create something new is by putting two items together. The cronut is a great example of taking two good things and making one great thing. So great that the “Cronut Craze” became a global obsession. Find inspiration by taking two of your favorite sweets and combining them, or try using one favourite thing to replace an ingredient in another. The croissant-donut hybrid spawned the Wonut- a waffle-donut blend, the Cruffin- a croissant-muffin and the Crookie- a croissant with an oreo inside. Find a hybrid that works, and you just might find the key to restaurant success.
5. Make it Smaller
A mini chocolate waffle with a dollop of cashew cream and drizzle of raspberry coulis doesn’t seem as much of a caloric investment after a meal as a slice of triple chocolate cheesecake. Offer guests something sweet in the form of tasters or mini desserts. Try a saucer of tiny macarons, shot glass sized tiramisu, or a tiny lemon meringue tart.
6. Offer it for Take Out
Guests might be feeling like they’re ready to head home for some Netflix, and dessert may not appeal to them right now, so make sure you have some treats that patrons can grab for later. Momofuku offers guests treats-to-go before they drop off the check, like their famous corn cookie which is prepackaged and makes for a quick sale. Easy-to-pack up sweets like churros, or pre-packed treats like chocolate pudding in a small takeaway cup, give customers with a sweet tooth fewer reasons to turn down dessert.
7. Offer a Group Dessert
Grazing boards of fruit, chocolate, nuts, savory spreads and mild cheeses are a perfect way to satiate guests in groups that want to have a sweet taste of something but don’t want to be the odd man out ordering a big slab of cake. A casual-style platter will have everyone reaching for something, and will likely encourage guests to stay for another round of drinks.
8. Outsource It
Don’t have the capacity for a brand new dessert menu? Not sure you can compete with the bakery down the road? Don’t have room in your food truck to whip up cakes and cookies fresh each day? No worries, get someone to do it for you. Find the best desserts in town at the nearest patisserie or bakery and work with them. Sell their goods at your place, creating a neighborhood ally and fostering a sense of community.
Need more visuals to inspire your dessert menu? We’ve got you covered on Pinterest. Check out our Yummy Sweet Treats board.
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