Progressive Grocer

JUN 2016

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8 SOLUTIONS JUNE 2016 has worked in fne dining hotels. "It could be a chocolate globe flled with something that you crack tableside, and it bursts open with ice cream and maybe the server pours extra sauce on top. Te big, shareable items are huge right now." Patrick McDonnell, chef and founder of McDonnell Kinder & Associates LLC, a culinary and restaurant consultancy in Kansas City, Mo., agrees with that assessment. "I'm seeing larger desserts that a party of four or six can order and sit together at a larger communal table," he says. "Teenagers especially will go out as a group and talk over a shared dessert." Interactive, theatrical desserts are also taking center stage in eateries. Todd points out a restaurant in Houston that serves a bubble tea-inspired dessert, with tapioca squares set at the bottom of a glass that burst with cofee and infuse with the cream layered on top. "Chefs are thinking about diferent ways to execute familiar favors," she says. Individual indulgence At the other end of the spectrum, more consumers want a variety of smaller desserts that are just as creative and indulgent, to eat individually or perhaps package together for an eclectic end to a dinner party. "[Consumers] are more savvy when it comes to seeing trends online or in restaurants, and they're bold," says Jay Mandrillo, director of bakery merchandising for Price Chopper Supermarkets, a Schenectady, N.Y.-based chain known for its European-style Market 32 bakery and patisserie program. "Two or three years ago, the 8-inch double layer cake might be what someone would bring home for dessert, but now shoppers are looking to satisfy each individual taste profle in a group. Some like key lime pie, others like chocolate mousse. Everything is smaller but more upscale." Fresh fruit tarts in mini—and semi-larger—form have been fying of the shelves as of late, says Mandrillo. At the store, they bring vibrancy and life to a bakery section when lined up in an enclosed glass jewel case. Shoppers have also gravitated toward seasonal favors in diferent confgurations, from key lime tartlets in the spring to mini lemon chifon pies in the summer, cherry pies in the fall, and peppermint-spiked mousse cups in the winter. "Tey're really looking for variety," Mandrillo says. Te smaller sizes also make these treats a more attractive option for buying and enjoying on the spot, in the cofee shop-like atmosphere Price Chopper has created in its stores. "During the week consumers are looking for a wider variety of choices in smaller portions because they're more concerned about their health," adds Lara, who has noticed the petit fours and little tartlets sell most frequently. "You end up with an assortment, almost like diferent candies in a box. It's great for family gatherings or baby showers when you want to buy a bunch of smaller desserts." Reinvented retro Retro desserts have stayed the course when it comes to des- sert trends, but chefs are experimenting with more twists on the classics. "We've showed clients a brûléed lemon tart with a me- ringue topping and peanut crust, a tiramisu with a layer of cofee ice cream instead of cofee liqueur, a pineapple upside-down cake with mango puree in the layers, and [we] have made cookies out of brownie dough," says McDonnell. Wafes—as in chicken and wafes—have moved beyond breakfast and hit the dessert category with sweeter toppings like chocolate and fruits, according to Todd. And building on the ever-popular salted caramel favor, more chefs are experimenting with smoked, spicy and savory elements for desserts in the form of nuts, chile peppers, lemon curd, charred grapefruit and other citrus, she says. G

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