A leading pastry chef cites the “Waffogato,” pudding and macaroons as can’t-miss items, while the International Dairy Foods Association says ice cream flavored with balsamic vinegar, tomato and even hot sauce is likely be part of “ the same trends we’re seeing in other foods.”
As part of providing tips and tricks for pastry chefs and speaking to Hospitality magazine about dessert trends, Katzie Guy-Hamilton, the Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage for New York’s Max Brenner restaurants, cited “taking something nostalgic, yet [not] making it kitschy or silly [and making sure it has] a lot of intelligence behind it,” as a key driver behind net dessert trends.
Guy-Hamilton pointed to the “Waffogato,” a creation by New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel, who also started the “Cronut™” craze, as a new dessert item that captures those traits. “The waffle is made out of vanilla ice cream and waffle pieces, and coffee is poured over it,” she explained to Hospitality. Ansel’s take on the traditional waffle uses coffee that has a distinct maple-syrup flavour, and the waffle-ice-cream creation is slightly salted, Guy-Hamilton added.
Guy-Hamilton identified texture as another key trend within the dessert space. “I am seeing it’s all about texture—even if they’re making something like chocolate pudding, people are looking at how to create the best texture, they are using the best ingredients and pairing it with really thoughtful toppings,” she told Hospitality.
“They are being really smart and not over thinking things—it takes a lot of thought to make a perfect pudding with the perfect salted caramel, but they make it so it’s totally approachable,” she explained.
With macaroons now truly infiltrating mainstream society (they can be found at fine-dining restaurants right through to fast-food outlets), Guy-Hamilton believes they are here to stay, Hospitality reported. “Macaroons have a perfect texture, they are the perfect example of a dessert that highlights the real simplicity of ingredients yet their execution is on point,” she said.
“They take a lot of skill to make well,” she added. “You really have to understand what makes them work and how long they need to sit before you should enjoy them–I think that they will always be around.”
Guy-Hamilton also said she is a fan of pudding, and believes it will continue to gain traction by virtue of its versatility.
“I am big on the perfect creamy texture of it,” she said. “It’s not thick like ganache, it doesn’t have any remote trace of the cocoa flavor and it just needs to be topped with something fresh, whether it’s salty, some sort of warm liquid or fresh fruit. It’s a really perfect platform—a blank canvas if you will.”
Guy-Hamilton, a pastry chef by trade, told Hospitality that she got to where she is through hard work, a love of chocolate and creation, and a bit of luck.
“I worked through the ranks starting in conference kitchens,” she said. “I was exposed to entertainment and events and fine dining while working in California, and then in New York [where she currently resides] there’s constant trends and cultures being built—we have this new boutique culture and there’s this hip approach to food.”
Guy-Hamilton’s advice for budding pastry chefs? Get out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to try new things.
“You have to be open, you have to want to work hard and you have to want to learn—I think really that’s the key—and you have to have skill, of course,” she told Hospitality. “There are so many opportunities out there and if you’re not afraid to fail or afraid to learn, I think you can accomplish a lot.”
The key to a great dessert is simplicity, she told Hospitality. Pastry chefs should begin with a simple idea, she said, and expand on it from there.
“I think if you keep it simple then you can build, but if you start with too many things going on in your head then it’s hard to focus your thoughts,” she said. “If you start with the ingredients that you really love and the base that you really think you want to honor, you can usually go from there and make something beautiful. But if you’ve got too many thoughts going on, I suggest you go for a walk and think of ways to pare it back.”
In another report on dessert-related trends, Peggy Armstrong, a spokeswoman for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), cited balsamic vinegar ice cream, hot sauce ice cream and maybe even tomato as new flavors that could soon be seen in the freezer aisle.
“You’re seeing the same kinds of trends in ice cream that you’re seeing in other foods,” Armstrong told the Associated Press. “People are willing to experiment.”
The new flavors would continue a trend that has seen more “boutique items” such as opal basil lemon sorbet join exotic varieties of gelato and water ice to crowd out traditional ice frozen dairy desserts. Americans ate nearly 1.6 billion gallons of ice cream and other frozen dairy in 2012, the AP reported, but in that same year, production of regular ice cream hit its lowest point since 1996, according to IDFA statistics, at fewer than 900 million gallons.
With boutique ice cream shops and artisanal producers flooding the landscape during the past five to 10 years, the AP noted, audiences have been introduced to a wider range of flavors and textures. Cumin and honey butterscotch, salty vanilla, and pumpernickel are typical of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, an Ohio-based producer that has gone national. Coolhaus, which has parlayed ice cream trucks and storefronts into distribution in 2,000 supermarkets, offers Cuban cigar, spicy pineapple-cilantro and even fried chicken and waffle ice cream.
“The flavor we thought nobody would buy was balsamic fig mascarpone, and that’s the one we’re out of,” said Coolhaus co-founder Natasha Case reported to AP about the company’s recent experience at a trade show. “All the buyers want that one. Two years ago, we were out of vanilla.
“That buyer at that show who does five to 300 grocery chains wants to know what’s cool; before they just wanted to know that you could do vanilla well,” Case added.
While vanilla still reigns supreme, Armstrong told the AP, mass-market producers represented by the IDFA are branching out. At the association’s annual ice cream technology conference in April, producers showcased flavors such as Mexican-spiced chocolate and hot sauce ice cream. Ice cream flavors such as caramel popcorn, coffee-and-doughnuts, cotton candy and peanut butter s’mores also are destined for supermarket shelves, the AP reported.
Even today’s most exotic-sounding new flavors make sense on some level, it was noted. Candied sweet potato, a flavor being explored by Parker Products in Fort Worth, Texas, has its roots in Southern sweet potato pie. Ice cream behemoth Häagen-Dazs recently launched tomato ice cream in Japan, as well as a carrot-orange flavor. And why not, said Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
“A lot of vegetables have a very sweet flavor,” she told the AP. “Like corn. Even when you make it salty, it’s still sweet and milky.”
Producers also are tackling whiskey, beer and other alcohols in new ways. Jeni’s Splendid makes a cherrywood-smoked porter ice cream studded with rosemary-sprinkled bar nuts. High Road Craft Ice Cream in Marietta, Ga., makes a bourbon-burnt sugar flavor.
“Ice cream is a great canvas for evoking those flavors and speaking to those profiles, but also having fun with the cocktails, the old-fashioneds and the Manhattans,” said Coolhaus’ Natasha Case. “And I don’t have to card people—it’s a food.”
The next revolution, ice cream watchers said, will be in creating more texturally sophisticated ice creams. Customers are beginning to demand smoother, creamier products that suggest the hand of the artisan, the AP reported.
“Just in the way that people have learned to crave sophisticated flavors, they now want textures where the mouth-feel is really rich and delicious,” said Case. “The next thing is texture. It can be a fabulous flavor, but if it doesn’t feel really smooth and creamy and rich, it loses something.”