Offering new twists on classic desserts gives businesses a chance to  tap a key foodservice trend. So how are suppliers responding  to this demand?

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Consumers are creatures of habit who will often be happiest with a classic or traditional dish when offered a choice.

That’s the view of analysts NPD Group in a report on foodservice trends for 2017, in which it adds: “If done well, a new take on a classic dish will wow customers and keep the menu fresh. Successful operators will be those who offer a traditional dish while adding a surprising twist.”

For dessert suppliers, that twist can include new flavours and formats – or even a drop of the hard stuff.

Matthew Walker expanded its festive line-up last year with Golden Mulled Plum and Port Christmas puddings alongside a Guinness Fruit pudding. And supplier We Luv Brownies created its ‘Brewnies’ after being inspired to add beer to its brownies by a visit to a local brewery in Bradford.

Ministry of Cake, which was sold last month to French manufacturer Mademoiselle Desserts (see p58), has been exploring ideas including adding matcha green tea to its brownies.

“One of the flavours that seemed to be a hit last year was matcha green tea, which was almost everywhere I looked,” says Ministry of Cake managing director Chris Ormrod. “It gives off a vibrant, almost neon colour, so we’ve started to look at brownies with matcha green tea to give it a lovely green swirl, like a marbling effect.”

The manufacturer has also recently developed a new twist on the traditional sticky toffee pudding. “We made a beautiful version using specific prunes from our region,” adds Ormrod.

Matcha was flagged up by food ingredients manufacturer Macphie as one of the big flavour trends in bakery for 2017, as were coconut and ‘exotic’ flavours such as passion fruit. “Coconut remains a popular ingredient that provides a smooth, sweet taste when combined with the right flavours,” suggested Macphie in its report.

Coconut also featured in Sainsbury’s relaunch of its desserts line-up last autumn, which brought the roll-out of 120 new or revamped products. This included a Taste the Difference Raspberry & Coconut Quinoa Crumble featuring compôte topped with a butter-enriched quinoa, coconut and honey crumble. The retailer also offered a touch of the exotic with Japanese citrus fruit yuzu  in its Taste the Difference Sticky Gingerbread & Yuzu Pudding, and tapped British consumers’ ongoing love affair with salted caramel by introducing a stack of 12 choux topped with a salted caramel sauce.

Hybrid desserts are one way of offering new twists on the classics, suggests ingredients and products supplier CSM Bakery Solutions, which has identified trends including cheesecake brownies, cookie cupcakes and tiramisu pancakes.

“Add different ingredients to cakes to produce a twist on the classics,” adds CSM global head of culinary Morgan Larsson. “For example, chilli to a chocolate cake, or biscoff to a sponge pudding. Adding a stand-out flavour can totally transform a dessert into something new and keeps your range up to date with the latest trends.”

Special occasions also offer opportunities for variations, he says, such as turning Eton Mess into a Christmas mess with gingerbread pieces or swapping fruits in a lemon meringue pie to whatever is in season.

Such innovations are helping to drive growth in the chilled desserts category, which is currently worth around £574.5m at retail, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel. Sales growth has accelerated from 4% in 2015 to 5.4% in 2016. Some of the strongest performance was seen in trifle, jelly and cheesecake, with cheesecake value sales up 10.7% year-on-year from £110m to £121.9m. But not all traditional desserts have fared as well, with pies recording a decline of 14.7% and tortes/gateaux down 9.1% year-on-year.

Cheesecakes are proving a popular choice for product innovation in foodservice, according to eating-out market analysts MCA. There have typically been 10 new cheesecake and sundae items on autumn/winter dessert menus in eating out venues, while only three new brownie and crumble items have been added.

McVitie’s owner Pladis is tapping the opportunity for on-the-go desserts with a single-serve version of the traditional soufflé that comes packaged with a spoon. Launched into the Turkish market, The O’lala Sufle was highlighted as a ‘breakthrough’ product launch by analysts Nielsen in its Breakthrough Innovation Report last year.

Without the spoon “it would be perceived as just another cake”, says Nihal Gül, marketing director of biscuits and cakes at Pladis in Turkey. “After launch, we realised the product made a great addition to packed school lunches. The spoon adds a lot to the convenience.”

Excitement can also be added by offering products that weren’t viewed as a dessert previously, such as cookies. These are now being served up on restaurant, café and bakery menus, says CSM.“Giant cookies are becoming a popular item for dessert, served warm with ice cream and an indulgent sauce,” adds CSM global head of culinary Morgan Larsson.

Cookie dough can also be used in freakshakes – the craze for monster milkshakes featuring toppings including cream, chocolate and entire slices of

cakes, brownies or doughnuts. “This is a great way to make use of any extra product you have and drive sales in a new way,” says Larsson.

Between packaging innovation, exotic new flavours and the creativity of Britain’s bakers and chefs, it’s clear we can expect plenty of twists on classic desserts in the future.

Recipe: Beetroot Brownie


  • Butter, 325g, cut into cubes
  • Dark chocolate, 325g (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • Eggs, 3 medium
  • Demerara sugar, 300g
  • Sea salt, a pinch of
  • Flour, 200g,
  • self-raising
  • Beetroot, 250g, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and grated


  1. Grease a shallow baking tin, approximately 20 x 25cm, line base with baking parchment.
  2. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of hot water.
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until combined, then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth.
  4. Combine the salt with the flour, sift them over the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the grated beetroot – be careful not to over-mix or it will make the brownies tough.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake at 160°C/gas mark 3 for 25-30 minutes.

Source: Ministry of Cake

European connections

As the nation begins the task of exiting the EU, some of Britain’s dessert businesses are forging stronger links with European counterparts.

Manchester-based Destiny Foods, for example, completed its merger with European manufacturer La Compagnie Des Desserts last December. Destiny says the merger will drive forward its ambition to be the UK’s leading speciality dessert foodservice supplier.

Richard Watts, managing director of Destiny, believes La Compagnie Des Desserts is an ideal partner for his firm. “We both share the same ethos in providing high-quality desserts, excellent customer service and combined manufacturing facilities,” he adds. “We will pool our knowledge and product ranges to bring La Compagnie Des Desserts’ French desserts and ice-cream to the UK market.”

Just weeks after the Destiny deal was completed, Somerset- and Devon-based dessert maker Ministry of Cake announced it was being acquired by French manufacturer Mademoiselle Desserts. “This can only enhance our place in the European market, especially with the uncertainties created by Brexit,” said Ministry of Cake MD Chris Ormrod at the time of the deal, adding his business planned to grow sales from £30m to £40m a year.

“It opens up new markets to us and offers us the security of being part of a larger company. Our staff also now have options to work elsewhere in Europe.”

Fresh scoop on a favourite

A staple item on most menus, ice cream offers plenty of opportunities to embrace the latest flavour trends.

Analysts MCA recorded last year that ice cream was the most popular sweet food at dinner. consumed on 6.3% of out-of-home and 2.3% of food-to-go occasions.

Peanut butter, tipped to become a big thing in bakery has rapidly become an established part of many retail ice cream brands’ repertoires. Matcha is also starting to make its mark.

Meanwhile, New Forest Ice Cream last year partnered with Lotus Bakeries to bring Lotus Caramelised Biscoff ice cream to freezers. It has now expanded the line-up with a 120ml tub, which features a spoon in the lid. “With such a positive response to the flavour, we wanted to ensure the ice cream could be easily accessible for everyone at any time,” says New Forest Ice Cream director Christina Veal.