Dessert trends for Christmas menus

Whilst main course menu options for Christmas parties tend to remain pretty constant (the obligatory turkey, beef course, fish option and vegetarian dish), the dessert course offers opportunity to ‘wow’ diners with deliciously different, decadent offerings.

Simon Stenning, executive director of MCA Insight, says: “Consumers expect to see the standard range of mains at Christmas, but can be surprised and delighted by the starters or desserts. This therefore presents a fantastic opportunity for operators to differentiate themselves from their competitors.”

So what puddings are trending this Yuletide? Dawn Foods’ marketing manager UK and Ireland Jacqui Passmore advises: “The high street supermarkets’ Christmas 2017 ranges feature indulgent themed treats with hybrid formats as well as several ‘free from’ offerings. As well as chocolate, caramel and sparkle, also think Prosecco and Earl Grey flavours for this Christmas, alongside smash-able, melting and surprise cakes, designed to create theatre at the Christmas table with a choice of gluten-free options. High street bakers and caterers can take inspiration from these exciting premium ideas to re-create in their own outlets with bespoke limited-edition product offerings that aren’t available elsewhere.”

Jacqui continues: “Consumers are looking for new variations on classics such as lighter takes on heavily fruited products or at the other end of the scale, loaded and indulgent desserts and cakes as a once a year treat. Chocolate, of course, features high on the agenda but also overseas flavour influences such as pumpkin, strudel and spiced flavours such as orange and apple.”

There has also been an increase in miniature versions of Christmas favourites as part of an on-going trend for individual treating and sharing, from mini Christmas muffins to cookies, and mini lighter Christmas cakes, ideal for ensuring a varied selection on the Christmas table.

Ice ice baby! The ‘maturation’ of ice cream consumption has been a big trend this year with more adults turning to dishes with an alcoholic twist, which are currently boosting sales for a number of high-end establishments.

“No matter the time of year, you can always depend on ice cream to keep your dessert sales healthy,” states Mike Godwin, managing director of Amore Di Gelato. “According to our research, almost 85% of gastropubs, hotels and restaurants questioned claimed that ice cream was bought by more than half of all diners.”

Flavours like Amore Di Gelato’ s ‘Amaretti Amaretto’, which combines the crunch of Amaretti biscuits with the sophisticated sweetness of almond-flavoured liqueur, and Rum & Raisin, made with white and dark Jamaican rum swirled with a raisin puree, look set to be popular this Christmas.

Cheese An indulgent cheeseboard is a popular treat over the festive period. Craig Brayshaw, director of sales at speciality cheese supplier Eurilait, suggests a minimum of four varieties of cheese to make up an interesting cheeseboard to ensure a good amount of choice for guests without being overwhelming. Eurilait’s top cheeseboard choices include a rich and oozy classic French Epoisses along with a characterful blue, such as a creamy and tangy French Roquefort, a fresh goat cheese such as the award-winning Soignon goat log to provide a lighter, palate cleansing option and finally a traditional territorial such as a fine quality, rich farmhouse Cheddar. “Excellent accompaniments to enhance your cheese selection such as fresh fruits – figs, grapes and pear slices, along with artisan breads, crackers and chutneys can elevate your cheeseboard to something really special and fittingly festive,” adds Craig.