With warmer temperatures on the horizon, restaurants can turn to seasonal desserts to feed consumer cravings for lighter treats with the iconic flavors of summer. Half of restaurants menu seasonal dessert varieties or flavors, according to Datassential’s 2019 Dessert Keynote report.
Fresh fruits, frozen offerings to beat the heat and even grilled sweets with a hint of smoke can help operators get their dessert menus ready for the season.
Many fruits and berries are at their peak in summer, and they can be the star of a dessert when paired with custards or lighter flavored cakes, said Kenny Magana, R&D chef for Sweet Street Desserts.
“Something like our Lemon Pullman with some yogurt and oats seem to be very popular,” he said.
For a simple way to add a refreshing element to a variety of desserts, Magana recommends frozen fruit.
“I have always enjoyed freezing strawberries and then taking them and grating them with a microplane over anything,” he said. “For example, if you took our New York cheesecake and did something simple with it like topping it with a vanilla whipped cream and then finishing it with a good amount of grated frozen strawberries on top, it’s like having an instant granita along with the cheesecake, very refreshing.”
Lemonade-inspired sweets are another way to incorporate fruit flavors into summer dessert offerings. For a refreshing, elegant take on lemonade, Sweet Street developed a Pink Lemonade Bowl recipe built around its Lemon Manifesto Bar. The sliced lemon bars are arranged in a bowl with a spoonful of citrus apricot compote, grapefruit pearls and a fragment of citrus meringue for added texture.
Fruit-focused and other lighter desserts are a perfect match for summer’s main dish fare, such as fresh salads and grilled dishes. The grill’s smoky flavor and appetizing char can also carry over into dessert.
“The caramelization or Maillard reaction that grilling imparts is very nostalgic,” Magana said. “It triggers memories of summer family picnics or different festivals that happen during the warmer months.”
Loaf cakes take on a new flavor and develop a caramelized crust when grilled until golden brown. Sweet Street’s Blueberry Oat Pullman is transformed into a Grilled Blueberry Palooza Sammie when the grilled slices are sandwiched around lemon ricotta, micro greens and key lime yuzu curd.
On the hottest days of summer, diners turn to frozen desserts to beat the heat. Ice cream, sorbet and ice pops are perennially popular, but frozen variations of bar desserts also meet consumer cravings for chilled sweets.
For a clever summertime take on its line of bars, Sweet Street created the Frozen Dessert Bar-sicle recipe. Skewering Luscious Lemon Squares, Chocolate Peanut Butter Stacks and other bars before coating in chocolate and toppings creates a fun handheld dessert that can be made in any size. Smaller versions would be well-suited to snacking, which accounts for a growing number of dessert purchases. Three in five desserts occasions now occur as between-meal snacks, according to Datassential.