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Desserts are an indulgent comfort. Consumers continue turning to sweet treats for all of life’s celebrations even as the lingering effects of the pandemic tighten budgets.
The North American dessert market is projected to keep growing in the coming years. Experts expect the ice cream and frozen dessert sector to expand rapidly between 2022 and 2029. In a recent survey, 53% of consumers reported they had dessert in the past day, and 18% admit that they eat desserts once a week.
In the restaurant industry, 60% of operators offer desserts as a regular part of their menus. Desserts that require little prep, like cookies, cupcakes, and ice cream, are popular with consumers and have high-profit margins.
With all this love of sweets, dessert trends defined 2022. We’re diving into all the cakes, cookies, vegan desserts, and confections that people can’t stop talking about from last year that will dominate the dessert market in 2023.
Dessert boards or platters combine candies, cookies, chocolates, fudge, miniature cakes, macaroons, and any small sweet treat you can imagine. Boards and platters are trending because assortments offer something for everyone to enjoy.
Dessert boards are sure to be a hit at weddings, baby showers, and holiday parties. Restaurants can get in on the action by selling curated dessert boards with a smattering of their unique, exciting treats.
Be mindful of allergens when building dessert boards. Some people have severe allergies triggered by even trace amounts of nuts and other ingredients.
Plant Based Desserts
The pastry world is facing the demand for vegan options, with creative chefs and business owners meeting the call. It's no surprise - globally, the vegan dessert is worth $2.77 billion, and the market is growing more rapidly than other dessert markets.
Restaurants and bakeries are innovating with plant-derived ingredients so that vegans can satisfy their sweet tooth too. Even though some of the most acclaimed pastries, cakes, and pies require the fat content in butter and the protein in eggs, plant-based dessert recipes are plentiful, creating sugary and indulgent treats approachable to the growing population of vegans.
Another important factor is that plant-based ingredients are often more environmentally sustainable than their counterparts. Locally sourced and house-made ingredients are in vogue now more than ever.
Accommodating Dietary Restrictions
Accessibility matters in every industry. Gluten-free bakeries, dairy-free desserts, and naturally-sweetened confections are more common than ever before. Some businesses take this to the next level to accommodate health-minded customers by using naturally derived food coloring, allowing for vibrant desserts without artificial dyes.
Restaurants, bakeries, and commercial dessert companies are all embracing alternatives to traditional ingredients. It’s great to see businesses cater to all kinds of eaters and let them enjoy the pleasures of sweet treats.
Tea parties might seem like a relic of a past era, but sophisticated high tea service is springing back into the public consciousness. Popular period dramas like Bridgerton and The Gilded Age bring a renewed passion for beautiful, intricate spreads of desserts paired with fine teas. Restaurants, hotels, and cafes are putting their spin on this trend with special events and regular tea service.
Coffee and Tea Infused Desserts
Coffee and tea have been served alongside desserts for ages. But, these beverage flavors are becoming part of sweet creations. Coffee cake is a classic, while latte, mocha, chai, matcha, and earl grey flavored cakes and ice creams are gaining even more popularity this year. Layered with complementary flavors like pumpkin, cream cheese, and vanilla, these caffeine-essenced desserts are a refreshing twist on time-tested flavors.
In fine-dining environments, simple desserts are a relic of the past. Elevated-plated desserts with subtle flavor profiles and many complex, textural elements are cropping up on menus across the country. Innovative pastry chefs continue to push the envelope with crunchy, crispy, soft, creamy, and cold confections.
Serving desserts that look as artful as they taste is the goal. The plate acts as a canvas for creative chefs to explore textures, flavors, shapes, and colors in a way that is often limited by traditional dessert recipes.
Premium desserts, such as French macarons, flaky pastries, and delicate chocolate truffles are in higher demand in metro areas than ever before. Consumers are willing to spend a little extra for something small yet luxurious to combat the lingering challenges of the pandemic. Even cookies are getting the star treatment at spots like the famous Levain Bakery in NYC.
Spicy and Globally Inspired Flavors
Spicy flavors like black pepper, cardamom, and rosemary might not be traditional dessert flavors. Yet, the combination of spicy and sweet packs an extra punch in desserts. And, of course, pumpkin-spiced treats seem to never go out of style.
One big trend is culturally significant flavors are trending up. Global flavors like star anise, chipotle, turmeric, and cayenne are making appearances in bakeries and patisseries. Take your baked goods to the next level by experimenting with yuzu, ginger, and passion fruit. Your customers will love the opportunity to experience unique flavors in desserts!
Themed 3D Cakes
Cakes are perfect for any occasion or celebration. Bakers put their creativity to work in 2022 to make cakes stand out, literally. From the “is it cake” phenomenon to cakes specially made for themed events, 3D cakes are sculptural, edible works of art. Working with stiff Italian meringue buttercream, moldable fondant, and tempered chocolate, bakers and pastry chefs can create realistic and fantastical scenes.
Some dessert trends don’t go out of style. Classic, familiar flavors continue to be popular with a large section of consumers. Flavors like s’mores, cookies, cream, and peanut butter and jelly are both timeless and trendy. Especially in the wind-down of the pandemic, familiar flavors provide a nostalgic comfort to many. This is proven by the fact that simple desserts like cookies, cakes, brownies, and ice cream are best sellers in both bakeries and restaurants.
Embrace these dessert trends in 2023!
Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic on the economy, desserts, snacks, and confections continue to capture the consumer market. Desserts offer a simple and sweet way to increase profit margins. And, with these dessert trends, you can help your restaurant, bakery, or business to keep sales on the rise into 2023.