We’ve all seen them—mirror-glaze cakes so shiny they don’t look real; coconut-ash ice cream, black as night; and, of course, the cronut, a mash-up pastry that eager consumers lined up to order. These trendy, highly-Instagrammable desserts have all had their moment in the sun, leaving operators everywhere wondering what the next big thing will be and how they can cash in before the hype has died down.
Get inspired: Check out these four trending ideas for desserts that are heating up on social media right now.
1. Naked cakes
Not the kind you’d see at a bachelorette party—the naked cakes we’re talking about are ones that shed the outer layer of frosting or fondant that have been ubiquitous for years, favoring instead a rustic look with filling such as lemon curd, meringue or chocolate ganache spilling out just slightly over the cakes’ edges.
Think these cakes aren’t ripe for the spotlight on social media? Think again—New York City’s famed Momofuku Milk Bar bakery offers up these iconic cakes in a variety of flavors, and are offered with unique fillings and toppings, including charred marshmallows, coffee frosting, passion fruit curd, apple compote and stout beer ganache.
2. Unicorns and rainbows
The key to creating a dessert that’s a guaranteed hit on social media is ensuring it’s visually appealing. Though taste is obviously important, a dessert’s looks are everything when determining shareability. What that in mind, it’s not surprising that rainbow-colored “unicorn” treats are generating excitement. Technomic’s Dessert report finds that about a third (32%) of consumers ages 18-34 say that brightly colored “unicorn” desserts are appealing or extremely appealing, and that’s the same age group that’s most likely to share pictures of their dessert on social media.
From the rainbow bagel (filled with confetti cream cheese frosting rather than a savory shmear) and rainbow candy bark to the Unicorn Frappucino at Starbucks and too-cute-for-words unicorn macarons, these whimsical desserts are all about harnessing bright color and fun and putting it into a sweet package that’s not just for kids.
3. Extreme milkshakes
Operators are also adding Instagram appeal with “freak shakes”—over-the-top creations with a number of toppings, making a milkshake more indulgent than ever. Swizzles of hard candy, a drizzle of peanut butter and chocolate sauce, sprinkles galore, and any number of other sweet embellishments adorn these works of art.
Towered high, these milkshakes are the dessert world’s answer to brunch’s over-the-top Bloody Marys—only instead of mini cheeseburgers or a chicken wing garnish, diners can enjoy milkshakes with ingredients such as brownies, marshmallows, cookies, fruit, waffles, whole donuts, rock candy, pretzels, a slice of pie, and virtually anything else their hearts might desire. These are perfect for diners who have a seriously sugary sweet tooth.
4. Rolled ice cream
Rolled ice cream, first made popular in Thailand, is a newer trend that’s making waves all over the place. This unique treat offers up an experience like those offered at create your own ice cream shops known for mashing mix-ins into an ice cream base to produce signature sundaes.
With this new method, an unfrozen ice cream base is poured onto an ice-cold (-31 degrees Fahrenheit) steel surface that looks like a pizza pan. Metal spatulas (rather than ice cream spades) are used to chop toppings into the base, and the whole mixture is spread around on the slab to ensure quick freezing. After just about a minute or so, the ice cream is spread thin and scraped off the slab at an angle, creating those unique and instantly-Instagrammable scrolls of ice cream. They’re placed in a cup and topped off with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fruit, caramel or other toppings.
It's easy to see why these types of desserts are a hit: 42% of consumers say that when they order dessert, it’s important for the item they choose to be something they can’t easily make at home, while 40% say it’s important for it to be a signature item they can’t get elsewhere, according to Technomic’s Dessert report. Rolled ice cream fits the bill for both of those. Offering something that’s unique and not too easy to find makes this frozen treat one that’s guaranteed to have people lining up.
The Manifesto™ line is our testament to ingredient integrity
Sweet Street’s work to bake cleaner, more wholesome desserts began over 10 years ago, when we started noticing hidden preservatives and additives in our food supply chain. We made a decision to collectively take back control, using our industry leadership to convince some of the largest ingredient suppliers to change their ways.
The result of our efforts is the Manifesto™ line of treats—made with ingredients that are clean and GMO free. Every batch of our Manifesto™ bake-off cookies starts with all-butter dough, pure cane sugar and only cage-free eggs. Additionally, all Manifesto™ chocolates are sustainably grown by farmers dedicated to protecting their land for future generations.