Optimizing the dessert menu for off-premise dining

Photograph courtesy of Ferrero

With the pandemic forcing many eateries to pivot to take-out and delivery, restaurant operators are looking for menu items that are easy to prepare, travel well and have broad appeal. This move veers away from a la carte meal components toward bundling: 27% of consumers (34% of millennials) have purchased or are likely to purchase family meal bundles, according to Technomic’s 2020 Delivery and Takeout Consumer Trend Report. Bundled meals are a way to add perceived value—and one-tried and-way to add value is by including dessert.

At the same time, in an effort to control costs, operators are trimming inventories. To that end, they look for flexible ingredients they can cross-utilize in a variety of applications and dayparts. Nutella®, the hazelnut-cocoa spread, is one ingredient that fits the bill.  A beloved favorite worldwide, Nutella® stars in a plethora of desserts as well as snacks, breakfast, beverages, sandwiches and more. In addition, Nutella® is Kosher and Halal certified and is gluten-free.

While fans may spoon Nutella® directly from the jar, restaurant operators are excited that they can employ Nutella® as a spread, a filling, a topping, drizzle or for dipping.

Easy does it

In these challenging times, many operators need to trim labor costs, which means they need food items that are quick and easy to prepare. When it comes to desserts, this can often mean turning to pre-made or thaw-and-bake bakery items—but it’s easy to dress them up and add value with a dessert topping such as Nutella®—just frost items like cake slices or brownies with it, or drizzle it atop just about any sweet offering. Or, use it as a filling to sandwich two cookies or crispy rice treats.

Dessert pizzas are popular shareables the entire family will enjoy, and are easy to prep using pizza shells, focaccia or pie crust, drizzled with frosting, jams, Nutella® and other toppings, plus a sprinkle of nuts or mini-marshmallows. Sliced fruit adds a healthy touch; according to Ignite menu data, bananas (38.5%) and strawberries (23.7%) are the top ingredients paired with Nutella®.

Travel plans

That people eat with their eyes first is a truism that applies to takeout and delivery. Even the prettiest decorated dessert will be a flop if it arrives as a gooey mess.

Proper packaging is critical to successful takeout and delivery programs. Ideally, takeout containers should be easy for staff to pack with food and also easy for customers to pick up, carry and transport, while keeping the contents intact and at safe temperatures. Consider the menu.

Some types of sweet confections travel better than others: stuffed or filled items, for example, such as donuts (or donut holes), cannoli shells, calzones, turnovers and empanadas.

Some desserts are easy to pack, such as sundaes and parfaits; just layer ice cream or pudding, fruit and toppings into transparent, closeable cups—transparent to show off the colorful layers. Some folks like to drink their desserts, too, so offering options such as milkshakes, smoothies, iced coffee and hot chocolate can be great off-premise dessert options.

Love to DIY

For more challenging-to-pack items, consider deconstructed desserts, providing ingredients in a kit and let the customers assemble it themselves.  This idea has growing appeal: 13% of consumers (including 18% of millennials) have purchased or are likely to purchase meal kits, according to Technomic’s 2020Delivery and Takeout Consumer Trend Report. And 11% (including 17% of millennials) say the same about do-it-yourself kits, which involve a certain amount of meal prep.

DIY kits allow consumers to get creative and are a fun family activity for all ages. Assemble a dessert taco kit, supplying taco shells, fillings, and toppings such as Nutella®. Dessert waffles are another customizable dish perfect for off-premise construction—just package toppings in individual cups for customers to build at home.

Dippables are limited only by the imagination. Consider: sliced fruit, marshmallows, cake pops, granola bars, popcorn balls and cookies, cakes and pastries of every stripe; just pack in a clamshell with a compartment of Nutella ®for dipping. Or, supply kits with a mini jar of the spread.

For more Nutella® recipe ideas, click here.

This post is sponsored by Ferrero


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