4 holiday flavors trending on menus

holiday desserts

From Chef Pierre®.

No menu part has arguably seen more creative experimentation over the past few years than the dessert course. Savory overtones are often seen in sweet desserts and unique ingredients and presentations have become commonplace.

But when it comes to holiday desserts, traditional flavors still rule, and the research bears that out. Technomic’s 2017 Dessert report found that 46% of consumers say they tend to enjoy the same desserts they ate as a child. That could be chalked up to the nostalgic feelings so prevalent at holiday time, or simply to the fact many of the flavor preferences established in childhood tend to carry over into adulthood.

In healthcare as well as C&U settings, these nostalgic flavors can help provide comfort to patients and staff as well as students and can help boost sales of desserts.

Traditional flavors are also making a comeback by way of retro desserts. Traditional cookies, pies, layer cakes and even fruitcake are all making return appearances on holiday dessert menus. With that in mind, using some of the specific flavors associated with the holiday season can lead to delicious desserts.  Here are just a few inspiring ideas:

  • Peppermint. Almost nothing says holiday more specifically than peppermint, and it has the unique ability to be used both as a liquid flavoring or in its solid, candy form. A topping of crushed peppermint pieces adds color and flavor to cookies and pies; peppermint extract livens up mousses or puddings. And is there any garnish more festive than a candy cane?
  • Gingerbread. Gingerbread has seen a resurgence lately via usage in lattes and other specialty coffee drinks. Traditional “cake-style” gingerbread is a great retro dessert by itself; crumbled gingerbread cookies can add crunch as a topping on other desserts. Gingerbread is featured at University of California-Davis’ Tercero Dining Hall, in its “Granny Specialties” Gingerbread Cake.
  • Roasted fruit. While summer desserts are often based on lighter berry or citrus flavors, holiday desserts can take advantage of the flavor depth that occurs when fruit is roasted. Roasted apples with cinnamon can do double duty as a side dish or as an easy dessert by adding a scoop of ice cream—or, use them to top an already prepared Chef Pierre® pie and offer a signature twist. Pears, peaches, plums and nectarines all work well for roasting.
  • White chocolate. Chocolate is always popular, but white chocolate has a particular appeal around the holidays. Use it as an ingredient or simply shave it over cakes, puddings or pies to add a quick touch of sweetness and snowy white color. At Cedar Haven County Home in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, residents can try the Pumpkin Cheesecake with White Chocolate.

The Technomic dessert report found that the holiday season happiness can translate into eating: 58% of respondents say that they are more likely to eat desserts when they feel happy. So, with patrons already positively inclined toward dessert, all the holiday dessert menu needs is a little promotion.

Consider setting aside a separate area of the dessert line and adding some simple holiday decorations to showcase these special desserts. Or, make a combo deal: pair a special holiday menu item, such as a roast turkey and cranberry sandwich, with a selection from the holiday dessert bar. These types of promotions are a win-win across all segments, including healthcare and college & university: Diners get the holiday flavor they crave, and operators can get a boost of business. Now isn’t that sweet?

Traditional favorites with real holiday appeal from Chef Pierre®

The foodservice industry’s number one pie brand, Chef Pierre®, makes it easy for operators to serve desserts consumers crave at holiday time and year-round. Traditional fruit pie flavors like Dutch Apple, Cherry, Peach and Carmel Apple Nut appeal to the more than 40% of Americans that eat some variety of pie each week.

Great for on-premise and grab-and-go enjoyment, Chef Pierre® Fruit Hi-Pie®, Traditional Fruit Pie & Fruit Cobblers are now naturally sweetened, with no artificial flavors or colors, satisfying the 72% of consumers that say food that has no artificial sweeteners is healthier* and the 61% that associate “no artificial ingredients” with clean eating*. Operators and patrons alike love these desserts for their back-of-house convenience, flaky crust and delicious fruit flavor. Learn more here.

†Based on Tyson proprietary 2014 Datassential report
‡Datassential Desserts Report 2015
*Technomic Healthy Eating Trend Report, 2017


More From FoodService Director

Menu Development

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources