Between consumers’ move toward health and wellness and their desire to indulge when dining away from home, desserts are facing a dichotomy these days. Savvy operators, though, are bridging this gap with better-for-you desserts and innovative portion control that provide guests with a guilt-free sweet ending.
For some, lighter desserts are a way to offer a little indulgence without overdoing it. For example, semifreddo, a semi-frozen mousse or custard, is trending on restaurant menus, according to Chicago-based research company Datassential. Traditionally made by folding whipped cream into a flavored base, semifreddo marries well with a variety of flavors and balances out richness with a lighter texture.
Incorporating seasonal fruits and herbs can also give sweets bright, fresh flavor along with a shot of health. These desserts are also very popular with consumers—59 percent said that they’re highly interested in seasonal dessert specials, according to Datassential, so operators who menu seasonal flavors can see a sales boost.
To that end, casual-dining chain Olive Garden recently added a Sicilian cheesecake with seasonal strawberry sauce to its dessert menu. Likewise, earlier this spring Chick-fil-A officially menued frosted lemonade, a long-time “secret” menu favorite made by blending soft-serve vanilla ice cream with lemonade.
Additionally, menuing desserts in mini or shareable portions can be a way for operators to offer indulgence without guilt. Guests at Maggiano’s, for example, can order bite-sized portions of the chain’s Chocolate Zuccoto cake, or they can choose the mini dessert sampler, which offers smaller portions of the restaurant’s family-style desserts.
This post is sponsored by Knouse Foodservice