Delicious Dessert Trends

Virginia Woolf, an English writer, who is considered among the most important modernist twentieth century authors, had said, ‘One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.’ To that one may add, delectable dessert/s is/are the ultimate, ethereal culmination of dining well. Yet, often one is made to feel guilty about indulging one’s sweet tooth by health freaks.

For connoisseurs of desserts, it doesn’t matter what the occasion or the time of the year is; consumption of dessert delicacy is a must. And to keep the health conscious satisfied, Chefs have now introduced desserts that can be labeled as healthy desserts – no sugar, gluten-free, with fresh fruits. Ashok Malkani examines the dessert trends for 2018 and discovers that there are now even savoury desserts available!

Talk about desserts and many among us are apt to go weak in the knees. Dessert in a dinner can be compared to icing on the cake or the climax to a spectacular movie! There can be no denying the fact that a sumptuous dessert gives a befitting culmination to any meal.

The word dessert comes from the French word desservir, meaning to clear the table. This refers to the fact that dessert was served after the table had been cleared of other dishes.

Desserts around the world have come a long way since they were made. There have been multiple flavour variations by Chefs who have added to the craving of the people for these sweet delicacies. Mirror glazed cakes, where one can see her/his reflection as she/he about to take a bite, have become the latest Internet sensation.

Patisserie Chefs have constantly been coming up with new flavours that not only look appealing but also taste fabulous. 

New Trends

So what are the new dessert flavours and what will be the new trends in desserts, especially in the context of Indian food service industry?  Chef Prabhu from Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway, declared, “In my personal opinion, 2018 is expected to be a year where many interesting desserts’ innovations are about to happen. However, the top dessert trends around the world would be desserts for special dietary preferences such as gluten-free, vegan & savoury desserts.”

“During the summer months, main consideration of the Bakery Chefs is to keep the guests hydrated, which draws our attention to seasonal fruits. All we have to do is infuse these fruits in our desserts to make it more tempting in summer. Some of the desserts which we will have in this summer are White Chocolate Mousse with Lychee Granita, Vegan Mango Mousse, Texture of Mango, Guava Lemon Parfait, Fig & Honey Frozen Yoghurt,” he pointed out further.

 “Patisserie, as a profession, provides lots of scope for experimentation and usage of new techniques. It combines flavours to create innovative desserts that taste good. Activated charcoal has already made its way into the bakery and it will continue to rule the industry. With so much awareness towards healthy lifestyle, usage of natural flavours, which are derived from natural sources, will also be making its way through 2018. With the trend moving towards veganism, vegan desserts (no eggs, no milk and no cream) are also going to be the next big thing in 2018,” disclosed Neeraj Tyagi - EAM Food and Beverage at Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi.

“All fruit-based desserts are highly likeable as summer desserts. Mango and all tropical fruits like papaya, pineapple, lychee work very well as ingredients in summer desserts. At Tamra, our award-winning multi-cuisine restaurant, we offer 21 gelatoes as part of our dessert buffet. Our flavour combination is very unique with flavours like jamun, popcorn ice-cream and more,” elaborated Tyagi.

Manjul Myne, Pastry Chef, Chandigarh Baking Company, JW Marriott Hotel Chandigarh opined, “Moving beyond ‘pastry’ to ‘not very sweet’ desserts is the latest trend, particularly in the bakery segment. Desserts based on seasonal fruits, and the use of locally sourced ingredients will surely be in vogue in 2018. I may add that guests these days are very health conscious and prefer healthier options like fresh-baked wholegrain cookies, savoury cupcakes, multigrain breads, etc.”

“In my kitchen at Chandigarh Baking Company in JW Marriott Hotel Chandigarh, I am working with my team on innovative ‘fusion’ desserts for this summer. We are planning to serve unique desserts like the special Nolen Gur Ice Cream, Honey Semifreddo and many more. We are looking to use jaggery and honey in mousses and ganache and are experimenting by pairing them with other ingredients like fennel, rose, etc. to see how they complement each other,” explained Myne.

“I have also tried and used different textures like gels, dehydrated fruits, root vegetable creams, etc.,” Myne added.

 “Chocolate is something which will never be out of trend. What will be added to this will be the fruits, organic ingredients, and there would be more focus on natural sweeteners. There will be special emphasis on appearance and presentation. Artistic approach to desserts would be ‘in’ during this year,” averred Chef Manohar Singh Devandi, the Executive Chef at Hotel Royal Orchid, Jaipur.

“The special desserts offered by our hotel this summer would be among others, Sweet Potato Gulab Jamun, Watermelon Rasmalia and Mint Chutney White Chocolate Blondie,” informed  Manohar Singh Devandi.  

 Suresh Thampy, Executive Chef, Hilton Mumbai International Airport stated that there would be changes in the dessert menu this year. “There is a shift in trend from heavy desserts with chocolates, and also from rich creamy and spongy cakes to desserts which are lighter with ingredients like fruits, berries, dry fruits and nuts. Use of pro-biotic yoghurts is also going to receive a boost this year. Besides these, there will be a growing demand for vegan desserts and for those desserts which are sugar free and natural honey based,” pointed out Thampy. 

“During this summer, we would be introducing desserts like Yoghurt and Berry Trifles, Minty Melon Sorbets and Avocado & Pistachio Parfait,” Thampy conveyed.

“During the summer, desserts based on vegetables  like zuccinni, jackfruit, sweet potato will make their way into the menus. Among the fruits, mango, grape, litchi, watermelon, and apricot with some twists will be the summer delights in desserts. Zucchini Cobbler, Summer mix Fruit Parfait, Margarita Cake, Baked Gajar Halwa Cheese Cake, Baked Gulab Jamun Cheese Cake, Mango Jalebi, Mango Layered Baked Cheese Cake are a few of the fusion dessert varieties we plan to introduce on the menu,”  averred Sanjay Mamgain, Corp. Exec. Sous Chef, Lords Hotels & Resorts, Mumbai.

Vegan and Other Healthy Desserts

According to patisseries across India, people are becoming more health conscious and the trend would be for vegan and other forms of healthy desserts. One may raise one’s eyebrows, snigger and ask incredulously, ‘healthy and vegan desserts? Are you kidding?’ But it is true and happening, 

 “People today are more aware than ever before about what they are consuming and what is good or bad for their health. This has made the culinary world to experiment and evolve. The experiments are more towards offering healthy options followed closely by their consumers’ tastes, and appearance of the products. We are already witnessing trials carried out in vegan, gluten-free and organic or even fusion desserts. Lentils, mushrooms, and other vegetables that would offer both variety and distinct flavours to the palate are being tried in desserts,” asserted Mamgain.   

“More gluten-free products are now being used along with vegan products. Natural sweeteners like inulin – which is a fibrous carbohydrate, is being used more as a sugar and flour replacement and which can be added to baked products such as cakes,” he stated.

“I would like to add that vegan products cannot include animal milk, dairy products or even honey. At Lords Hotels & Resorts, we are working on offering vegan desserts with alternatives like soya based milk, coconut milk and cream, and tofu cheese. Presently, in the vegan dessert options we offer tofu cheese cake, dairy free chocolate pudding, chia coconut pudding, strawberry tapioca mousse, and quinoa pudding, among others,” pointed out Mamgain.

Chef Prabhu however, has a different take to the issue. “Many of us blindly believe that sugar free desserts and fat free desserts are healthy, but this is not necessarily true. If you compare any regular dessert and sugar free dessert there will not be much difference in calories. I would suggest if you want to be healthy, try to consume desserts made of palm, and/or jaggery instead of sugar. Also consumption of ghee and butter rather than trans-fat is considered good for health,” he opined.

“It may also be mentioned that though in European countries people are preferring vegan desserts, but this has not yet become popular in India. We have been serving vegan desserts frequently in our restaurant on special occasions and are proposing to introduce desserts like Zesty Lemon Coconut Cake, Water Chestnut Delight, Vegan Cheese Cake and Peanut Butter Pie, in the near future,” he added further.

 “People are getting health conscious and their health demands have to be catered to by the desserts. However, the focus is both on health aspect as well as on the taste and appearance of the dessert. Because if a dish fulfils a guest’s health demands but is not appealing to taste and appearance, the guest may not eat it. One of the steps considered for healthy desserts involve use of natural sweeteners like raw honey, maple syrup and stevia in its making,” affirmed Tyagi “As far as vegan desserts are concerned, we already have few vegan desserts available at our Tamra outlet,” he informed.

Myne stated that nowadays there are a lot of queries about healthy desserts from the diners. “To dish out healthy desserts, experimenting with ingredients like jaggery and honey and spices like mace, green cardamom and star anise are in trend – and on our menu. To begin with, my team and I are working on a recipe of jaggery and whole wheat crumble, mace and dark chocolate cremaux, etc. With patrons today extremely conscious about what they eat and inclined towards sweets with ‘no sugar’, we have replaced sugar with honey and jaggery in many of our desserts. At JW Marriott Hotel Chandigarh, desserts which I am already working on at present are succulent, delightful to look at and at the same time healthy,” Myne informed. 

“In recent times, probiotic yogurt has emerged as a replacement for fats like butter and margarine. Yogurt has been consumed by humans since ages and now it is being used in many dessert recipes in place of butter and trans fats,” Myne disclosed.

“Vegan menus have popped up all across the globe during the recent years as demand for plant-based options is on the rise. There is no doubt that vegan desserts would be in vogue in 2018. We are planning to introduce many vegan desserts in our menu at Chandigarh Baking Company, including Watermelon Granita, Pumpkin Pie and Peanut Butter Banana Ice-cream, to name a few,” Myne affirmed.

“We focus on gluten-free dessert recipes, fresh ingredients with no added sugar, natural sweeteners like honey/maple syrup, low fat yogurts/milk/soya milk for ensuring the production of healthy desserts,” asserted Chef Thampy. “We carry out experiments to ensure that our desserts meet all the three parameters of taste, texture, appearance and health components,” he added further.

However, he doesn’t think vegan desserts are a big trend in India. “As far as vegan desserts are concerned, at the moment they are not a very big hit in the country….but we definitely see a big trend for vegan desserts in India in the coming months/ years,” Thampy said.

 “People are enthusiastic for healthy food but still what I have seen is that when it comes to desserts people give a miss to health because desserts never fail to tempt or lure people. An amazing dessert is good enough to corrupt your taste buds and make you forget health consciousness. But nevertheless, we aim to make desserts without sugar. Honey is the best option when it comes to natural sweeteners. Optimum utilisation of natural sweeteners and minimising the fat content of the desserts is what we work for,” claimed Chef Manohar Singh.

“Veganism attracts people due to environmental advantages it offers, and more and more people are getting attracted to it. If we have more guests preferring vegan desserts we have to look at their demands and accordingly offer them the same.  At Hotel Royal Orchid Jaipur, we have some amazing desserts on the platter like Motichoor Coconut Kheer, Plum Tomato Blueberry Halwa, and Aampanna Jalebi,” informed an enthusiastic Singh. 

Savoury Desserts

A new trend in the dessert business is that of savoury desserts. Globally they have been taking hold for a while and it is predicted that they will continue to dominate the menus through 2018. 

Chef Manohar Singh believes that savoury desserts are like a pinch of salt in the mundane life. “They will continue to dominate menus in 2018. Always being sweet gets monotonous so you put a dash of salt to make the dessert more complete and interesting. Savoury dessert does not mean the dessert dish is devoid of sweetness, but has a salty element to the overall sweetness in the dessert, which can give it a more wholesome taste and flavour,” explained Manohar Singh.

Chef Thampy concurred with this by stating, “Savoury desserts like chili stuffed chocolate, pumpkin pies (sweet), desserts made from carrots, beetroot etc. are slowly gaining popularity.”

 “Savoury desserts are a big hit and the demand for this specialty food seems to be only growing. While the conventional desserts still rule the roost, savouries have offered an alternative. Savoury desserts are light food items which have a salty taste or plain taste or are a mix of sweet and salty taste,” averred Mamgain. 

“Savoury desserts are getting more and more popular because people are experimenting with their taste buds and times are changing. Savoury desserts are expected to become more popular with time as new flavours and tastes will be added. The use of edible flowers, mushrooms, tomato jam in different forms such as fresh, dry, powder or syrup will soon be included in making savoury desserts. Simultaneously, we may also see the evolution of processed savouries that will taste like meat without the use of real meat,” Mamgain explained.

“Vegetarian chicken tenders, chocolate peanut tarts, beetroot hummus with baked harissa, tortilla triangles, mushroom vol-au-vent, vegetable puffs, and bruschetta are some such savoury desserts,” he informed.

Chef Prabhu elaborates on the subject of experimenting with new dessert options. “In present times, none of us would like to go out for a dinner and have the same food over and over again. Everyone likes to try different trending things in all aspects let it be fashion, food or shelter. When it comes to food, people nowadays are eager to try new ideas. One such new idea which has snowballed into a trend is the savoury dessert. Some of such savoury desserts are cinnamon apple taco, sweet potato dry cake, pumpkin pie, zucchini ricotta muffins, gluten-free carrot cake mascarpone frosting among others.”

Tyagi however, is of the opinion that “there are very few takers for savoury desserts, as people still want to enjoy something completely sweet, healthy and natural in its flavour to end their meal. Savoury desserts include oriental crepes, waffles (relished best with fruits and gelatoes/ice cream),” he stated. 

 “It won’t be out of place to say that savoury desserts have come up in a big way in recent times. With public demand for them on the rise, more and more restaurants and bakeries around the world are experimenting by adding savoury ingredients to traditional desserts to create new and unexpected flavour pairings,” declared Myne.

“We have observed that patrons love to try savoury treats like savoury cupcakes, cumin cookies, beetroot cremaux, etc. However, making a savoury dessert requires a deep understanding of the ingredients. For instance, as a thumb rule, the key ingredient in a savoury item must have a hint of natural sweetness. Sea salt and herbs, if used in the right balance, can lend immense depth and enhance sweet flavours, especially when put in cakes, pastries and chocolates. Basil works wonderfully well in ice-creams because when chilled, it lends a tanginess to it. Bacon in pies, breads and cookies lend depth and enhances the flavour of the dough,” Myne elaborated.

But all said and done, desserts, whether they be vegan, savoury or plain sinful, are all time favourites among diners. They are among few of the things, whose popularity is not influenced by geography or culture. Their universal popularity transcends all age groups. And their sweet taste is complemented by their sweet future in the Indian food service industry.

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