Desserts: Through a Straw

Drinkable desserts offer convenience and sometimes a healthy post-meal option.

Published in FSD Update

Overlook’s Summit Shuffle.

For operators looking to add something nutritious, portable and trendy to their menus, consider drinkable desserts. Whether you go seasonal with fresh fruit smoothies, ethnic with agua frescas or decadent with milkshakes, the options are limitless.

Take it from Richard B. Roberts, chef/manager at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., who offers smoothies and milkshakes in rotating flavors, including strawberry, mixed berry and mango. Chocolate and vanilla milkshakes are garnished with items like chocolate chips, crumbled cookies, candy and fruit. “Because Cornell has its own dairy plant, these [drinkables] get added appeal, and it gives our operation a chance to feature a high-quality, local product,” Roberts says. 

Joe Mullineaux, senior associate director for the University of Maryland’s Dining Services, can relate. Mullineaux also uses ice cream made from the on-campus dairy for his best-selling milkshakes. “We have a long tradition surrounding our ice cream,” Mullineaux says. “In most of our smoothies we use whole fruits and add in nutritional supplements, which takes the guilt away from dessert, making them very popular.” 

Michael Atanasio, manager of food and nutrition at Overlook Medical Center, in Summit, N.J., also uses the guilt-free dessert tactic. Atanasio offers many varieties of yogurt and fruit smoothies made with fresh fruit, protein and supplements. One smoothie, the Summit Shuffle, is made with a Greek yogurt base and is topped with almonds and dark chocolate. “I try and stay away from plain white sugar and use natural ingredients, like fresh fruit and vegetables, for sweetening whenever possible. Soon we’ll use our own honey,” says Atanasio, who recently added two beehives to his on-site garden. “Other bases, like yogurt or candied ginger, double as sweeteners and tie into the healthy craze.”

While milkshakes and smoothies are mainstays, don’t stop there. Take a page from Mullineaux’s book and consider snow cones: shaved ice flavored with syrup and often topped with marshmallow cream. Though it starts out solid, as the ice melts the cones becomes a fun, portable drink, says Mullineaux, who sells the dessert at special events, at the Dairy and at the campus golf course bar, where he adds liqueurs.

Made to order
Perhaps the biggest challenge of drinkable desserts is they’re typically made to order so as not to dilute or thaw. “It takes a good bit of work and skill to make a good drinkable dessert, and it can be messy,” Mullineaux says. “Training is key. And you should start small, building on new flavors after you master the basics.” Cornell’s Roberts agrees: “In building a hot or cold beverage program, keep the process simple, using [no more than] five easily replicable ingredients. If you have all the necessary ingredients in place, it is more of a systematic production.”  

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
Mrs. T’s pierogies

From Mrs. T’s Foodservice.

Today’s college and university students demand customization, but they also seek out creative riffs on familiar dishes, making comfort food an area of opportunity for college & university operators.

This is especially true as more restaurants across all sectors add comfort-food favorites such as meatloaf, potato tots and loaded fries to menus.

Operators are already starting to see how a comforting, customizable ingredient such as pierogies meets those needs: Menu mentions of pierogies as an entree are up 9.3% over the last two years,...

Sponsored Content
local produce

From WinCup.

Today’s students care deeply about sustainability—much more so than the general population. For them, sustainable practices are visit drivers. What’s more, some 57% of students are willing to pay more for sustainable foods, according to Technomic’s recent College & University Consumer Trend Report . Sustainable claims drive visits, especially for young consumers: Some 31% of Gen Zers say they’re more likely to visit restaurants that try to be sustainable.

Students are looking for foodservice operations with comprehensive sustainability programs, and...

Industry News & Opinion

Mayfield High School in Mayfield, Ohio, has opened a coffee cart in its cafeteria, The News-Herald reports .

Open throughout the day, the cart sells 12-ounce cups of coffee for $2 each. Students were able to taste-test some of the offerings and were also involved in choosing the cart’s name.

The drinks are made with low-fat milk and unsweetened flavor syrups, and soy milk is on hand for those with allergies. To encourage more breakfast participation, the school gives students 50 percent off coffee when they also buy a breakfast item. Additionally, the cart is stationed next...

Sponsored Content
boston college acai bowl

From Dannon Foodservice.

Catering to the go-go-go lifestyle of university students is a challenge, and it’s one that Boston College dining representatives wrestle with daily.

“Students don’t just want to eat dinner between 5 and 7 p.m.,” says Beth Emery, the school’s director of dining. “They may want to eat dinner at 9 o’clock. We’ve been trying to come up with creative solutions.”

Those creative solutions include everything from offering breakfast items throughout the day to providing healthier late-night choices to trolling social media for trendy new menu ideas...

FSD Resources