Today, cupcakes and donuts, but what about tomorrow? Bring on the ice cream, new star of the dessert menu and leading comfort food in the U.S. for 2009. Ice cream is No. 1 of 10 dessert trends identified by The Food Channel based on research conducted in conjunction with the World Thought Bank (www.neemee.com) and the International Food Futurists.
The Top 10 include: Ice Cream as the Star—Usually relegated to a topping or an accompaniment to the dessert star, frozen desserts are coming into their own with new flavors, styles and presentation; Sippable Desserts—Desserts you can drink that go beyond the old Malt Shoppe; sippable desserts are big in non-alcoholic versions, but many offer a kick reminiscent of pairing your coffee with your cognac; Sharing Comes into the Open—Sharing the price, the caloric guilt, and the experience means that more desserts will be topped with two cherries, split in the kitchen, or built to easily pass without sharing germs; Out of the Ordinary Presentation—Restaurants will be adding more entertainment value to end the meal; picture flambé, which brings the same fireworks to the table as fajitas on a sizzling cast-iron skillet; Interactivity—Play with your food; pour, dip or roll your dessert in another layer of sweet or salty. Dessert is the last impression of the meal. It should give you something worth talking about; Nostalgia—Retro with a modern twist. Old standards like red velvet cake and bread pudding still work, but they’ve been contemporized; Portability—Beyond the takeout cup or cone, the new portability includes edible containers, new packaging, heat and cool maintenance options, and more; Novelties— It’s a grim world, and novelties such as candies, ice cream pops, and crazy straws all have a place in cheering us up. People are looking for smiles, and novelties bring them a different experience that may surprise and delight; International and unusual flavors—Chocolate still reigns as the top flavor, but contrasting ingredients and international influences are stepping up the dessert experience and giving new sensory appeal to extend the course; Go seasonal and local—The trend toward “localvore” eating continues. Adding local fruits (or even vegetables—have you tried ice cream and beets?) gives a fresh sense to any dessert.
“With the current state of the economy, people are looking for a little pampering. And restaurants are looking for a way to excite customers and give them a reason to visit. A dessert is that ‘something special’ that leaves you talking and excited about going back,” says Kay Logsdon, editor of The Food Channel.