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With applications having just closed for the next Great British Bake Off TV phenomenon, figures from global information company The NPD Group reveal that our appetite for sweet-tasting bakery and dessert products has taken off since the BBC programme started five years ago. As the final part of any meal, desserts not only offer a good source of extra revenue, but also provide operators with the opportunity to ensure customers leave with a great last impression.

For the year ending September 2015, we munched our way through a record 1.5 billion servings of all items in the sweet bakery and dessert categories (comprising cookies, tea biscuits, scones, pastries - including Danish, muffins, doughnuts, croissants, tarts, pies & crumbles, cakes, puddings and brownies), according to the NPD Group. This is up +5.5% on the previous year and some +9.2% more than for the year ending September 2010. The Top Five sweet bakery and dessert goodies (cakes, croissants, cookies, brownies, muffins) account for more than 1 billion of the 1.5 billion servings.

whipped cream and strawberriesThe long and the short of it is that, in spite of incessant warnings about the latest bad kid on the block – sugar – our tendency to indulge in sweet treats is increasing.

“Since the year ending September 2010, annual servings of cakes are up +9.6% (36 million extra servings) and it’s a similar story for croissants (up +21% over five years: 27 million extra servings), cookies (up +18% over five years: 23 extra million servings), brownies (up +72%: 62 million extra servings) and muffins (up +27%: 30 million extra servings),” says Muriel Illig, Foodservice Account Manager, The NPD Group.

“We have certainly been buying more bakery items in the five years since the Great British Bake Off started in 2010. We consumed 780 million sweet bakery servings during the year ending September 2015 – that’s 76 million (around 11%) more than five years ago. The figure for dessert servings is 677 million – some 7.4% more than five years ago. Our appetite for cakes was especially keen with over 406 million servings in the year ending September 2015, while our appetite for brownies is shooting up too with servings jumping 72% to 149 million in the same year.”

Cater for all

“The dessert market offers caterers the opportunity to increase the average spend per head while also satisfying customers’ craving for something sweet after a delicious meal,” comments Christina Veal, Director at New Forest Ice Cream. “As with the variety demanded across the rest of the menu, the key to maximising on the sales opportunity presented by desserts is to ensure customers can choose from a number of different pudding options, including cakes and pastries, lighter alternatives such as ice cream and sharing desserts to offer the ultimate variation.”

Dan GillDine does desserts

Dine is an award-winning Leeds-based company providing event planning, exceptional catering and venue management to clients and partner venues around the region. Dine’s Managing Director and foodie expert, Dan Gill, shares his advice on planning, presenting and perfecting the ultimate desserts.

Dessert trios

For celebrations, our most popular dessert – and a trend that I think will continue this year – is the trio of desserts. In the winter months we often serve an individual sticky toffee pudding with cinder toffee shards, apple, blackberry and quince crumble and vanilla crème brûlée glazed with mulled wine caramel.

Visual treats

Dessert is a great opportunity to make a visual impact. We have seen a rise in the popularity of dessert buffets, which can provide a talking point at any event. We have done many creative things with them including installing interactive walls and TV screens as backdrops. For an event that had an Alice in Wonderland theme we loaded a table with 87 different items to replicate the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. There were giant chess pieces, a variety of tea pots, a four-tier brightly coloured wobbly cake, jellies and individually designed mini-desserts. Behind the table was an AV screen encased in grass. Whenever someone approached the table a rabbit would pop up on the screen and follow them along the buffet. This particular buffet required six chefs and a scale drawing to plan where each item would be placed. It was a mammoth task but the result was magnificent.

More recently we decided to serve the sweet course in a three tier glass pyramid. The top layer was an ice sphere filled with passion fruit cocktail, the middle was a flow of dry ice with passion fruit essence enhanced with LED lighting - the final layer was an organic chocolate dome brushed with 23 carat gold. Guests were then invited to take a glass bauble hanging from the tree centrepieces which included the finishing elements of the dessert. Watch the video here.

While most of us can only marvel at the desserts created by Dine, the company shows us just how far the simple pudding has come in the 21st century.

Kerrymaid pudding partyKerrymaid’s Pudding Party

“Kerrymaid recently teamed up with award-winning pastry chef, Thomas Leatherbarrow to provide chefs and foodservice operators with everything they need to increase profitability and footfall,” says Jessica Lalor, Brand Manager for Kerrymaid.

“Combining our dairy heritage and understanding of professional kitchens, we have developed Pudding Party Online to share expertise, creative recipes and best practice with chefs nationwide. A Pudding Party offers an evening of homemade desserts, giving customers the opportunity to taste a selection of sweet treats and then rate them, choosing their favourite ‘Queen of Puddings’ at the end of the evening. Running a ticketed event, such as a Pudding Party can help chefs distinguish their pudding offering from competitors and help to increase footfall and boost revenue.”

The Pudding Party platform gives chefs access to a range of expert advice from both Kerrymaid and Thomas. For tips, advice and a selection of recipes, visit

Ellen de JagerChocolate choices

Research has shown that people are more likely to choose a dessert if there is a chocolate option on the menu. Combine that statistic with the fact that we are approaching Easter and chocolate desserts – no matter how simple – are no brainers.

Ellen de Jager, Head Pastry Chef at Michelin- starred Bohemia Bar & Restaurant, St Helier, Jersey shares some seasonal chocolate ideas.

Ellen’s eclairsEllen’s eclairs

Rocky Road

For an easy no-bake recipe for the children, try Easter- themed rocky road. Simply melt chocolate and mix with mini marshmallows, digestive biscuits, dried fruit or mini chocolate eggs, then place in the fridge to set for three hours. Once it is set, dust with icing sugar.

Chocolate Croissants

Make or buy ready-made croissant dough and stuff with Crème or Caramel eggs. Once baked you’ll have warm croissants oozing with chocolate.

Ellen’s gateauEllen’s Black Forest Gateau with Cherry Ripple Ice Cream

Chocolate Bananas

Cover sliced banana with melted chocolate then put in the fridge to set. So simple and, what’s more, one of your five a day.

Crème Egg Brownies or Cupcakes

Add Crème eggs to cupcake or brownie mix for a gooey chocolate centre. Perfect for the ultimate chocolate lover and a great alternative to traditional Simnel cake.

Dessert fridge“When it comes to desserts, many people impulse buy, so it’s important that your offer looks tempting,” advises Helen Applewhite, Marketing Manager at Lincat. “If food is attractively presented in a well-designed merchandiser, it will sell. Effective lighting is important in this regard, but so too is performance.

“Food will only look good if it is maintained in optimum condition. Refrigerated units must therefore work efficiently and heated units must prevent food from drying out.

“Performance is important too of course for food safety, so it’s vital to understand that not all units actually perform to the intended level. This can lead to very serious consequences and is therefore a key concern.”

applepie with ice creamIce cream freezes out other accompaniments

Ice cream is the number one choice of accompaniment for desserts eaten out-of-home, regardless of whether it’s a warm crumble or cold tart, finds new research from ice cream brand, Amore di Gelato.

In its most recent survey project, 70% of consumers said ice cream was their favourite choice of dessert accompaniment, with cream coming in second (29%) and custard falling far behind with just 1%. The survey was conducted to gain insights into the little things caterers can offer to help make a big difference to diners’ overall dessert experience.

The results also revealed that 55% of respondents would choose ice cream to complement a hot dessert such as a fruit crumble, and 51% would make the same choice for a cold dessert including a rich chocolate brownie or refreshing lemon tart. Custard fared a little better with 29% choosing it as an option for warm puddings, such as traditional apple pie, indicating consumers’ preferences for certain sweet pairings.

Mike Godwin, Managing Director of Amore di Gelato, comments: “From our previous research, we already know that puddings can offer great profit margins for caterers, but these new statistics show how important it is to get every part of the dessert offering right, and that includes dish accompaniments. You wouldn’t pair horseradish when serving lamb and the same can be said for the final flourishes chosen for your sweet menu.

“With 50% saying they felt they got better value for money if offered an accompaniment with their dessert, operators have the opportunity to capitalise on those little details that add up to a happier dining experience.”

Diners also confirmed that traditional vanilla remained their favourite flavour, but the more indulgent chocolate and salted caramel were suggested as alternatives for an after- dinner treat.

coconut ice-cream“Coconut is a really popular on-trend lavour at the moment,” says Rebecca Manfredi, Managing Director of Suncream Dairies. “Its delicate, nu­ty sweetness and instantly recognisable aroma make it a favourite indulgence any ­ime of the year. Coconut ice cream is a perfect addi­ion both to tradi­ional and ethnic dessert menus.”

Making money from ice cream

Top tips courtesy of Christina Veal, Director at New Forest Ice Cream

  1. Serve a premium quality brand that will offer marketing support
  2. Always ensure you have stock of the most popular flavours; Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate
  3. Have a wide variety of other flavours on offer - we recommend at least 10
  4. Promote the brand you serve - pavement signs, stickers etc will all drive in the crowds
  5. Look to offer additional income generators - take-home tubs and cones
  6. Give customers the option to trade up in size with a variety of cones
  7. Ensure you have products suited to children - pester power still works
  8. Have a dedicated dessert menu - it can increase dessert take up by 25%
  9. Ensure your staff are trained in selling, rather than just offering dessert
  10. Make certain that any coupes or bowls are clean and free from chips.

Self-serve ice cream

Scott Duncan, Sales Director at Carpigiani UK Ltd agrees that ice cream – as a popular choice with all ages – is an essential option to include on dessert menus.

“The current dessert trend when it comes to soft serve ice cream seems to be for operators to include self-serve options,” observes Scott. “These provide the operator with the perfect chance to offer something new as well as traditional flavours. This trend was initially started by the larger high-street casual dining restaurants, but is now proving to be a popular choice with operators across the industry due to the potential for profit.”

Soft serve ice cream machines come in a range of sizes and styles in order to meet individual needs. Carpigiani manufactures a wide-ranging number of both floor standing and countertop appliances, with a choice of one or two flavours.

Scott continues: “A benefit of offering a self-serve option is that it will increase appeal with children; they will love the idea of being able to create their own desserts. Adding a selection of sweets and sauces for toppings can make the process even more fun for children.

“Self-serve is also a great opportunity for operators to use locally sourced ingredients and include a wide selection of mouth-watering toppings, sauces and seasonal accompaniments such as fresh fruit or nuts.”

Fruit saladIt is worth going that extra mile to ensure your desserts are well presented. This ‘stepped’ dessert glass is just one of many dessert service ideas featuring in the latest ‘Art of Artis’ catalogue

Making your own ice cream

‘’Dessert classics such as ice cream will always be popular. But for caterers looking to offer their customers a real point of difference, homemade ice creams, sorbets and frozen yogurt can really enhance the perceived value of a dessert menu; while often justifying a higher price point,” suggests Heather Beattie, Buffalo Brand Manager for Nisbets Plc, whose products include the Buffalo 2Ltr Ice Cream Maker.

“While traditional flavours such as vanilla, strawberry and chocolate will always be popular, consumer tastes are becoming increasingly sophisticated – with the market now seeing a real appetite for new and innovative flavour combinations. The flexibility that comes with the ability to make ice cream in house means that chefs have complete freedom to develop flavours unique to them – opening up a world of new possibilities.”

Liquid desserts

Not everyone will want to eat a dessert, but they may well want to drink one. Indeed, dessert-style beverages have grown in popularity and are now a staple item to any beverage menu. DaVinci Gourmet Brand Manager Jeanette Levis comments: “A quarter of consumers are likely to choose a Frappé as an alternative to a dessert with 51% citing ‘refreshing’ and 45% citing ‘indulgent’ as the main purchase drivers for Frappés.”

Coconut frapeCoconut Mocha Frappé


  • DaVinci Gourmet Mocha Frappé Powder
  • 2 pumps of DaVinci Gourmet Classic Coconut Syrup
  • Milk and ice
  • DaVinci Gourmet Chocolate Sauce
  • Cream


Fill cup with ice and milk. Add the Frappé Powder and Coconut Syrup and blend. To serve, pour into glass, top drink with whipped cream and decorate with chocolate sauce.

Banana FrapeBanoffee Toffee Frappé


  • 60g DaVinci Gourmet Vanilla frappé powder
  • 2 pumps DaVinci Gourmet Classic Coconut Syrup Caramel sauce
  • 100ml milk
  • Ice


Fill cup with ice and add to blender, add milk, powder and sauce and blend on high, top with whipped cream and drizzle with sauce.

For more recipe inspiration visit

New Yorks FinestNew York Finest

Recipe courtesy of Mr Fogg’s (


  • 45ml Amaretto biscuits infused Russian Standard Platinum vodka
  • 15ml Illy Espresso liqueur
  • 15ml Mozart Dark Chocolate liqueur
  • 15ml orgeat syrup
  • 1 espresso


Simply shake and strain into a glass then garnish with a coffee bean and an Amaretto biscuit.

Mr Fogg’s Cocktail Bar in London is a quirky recreation of the Victorian home of Jules Verne’s most famous adventurer, Phileas Fogg. Modelled on the Mayfair house in which Phileas would have lived after travelling Around the World in 80 Days, the bar is refined but at the same time truly off-the-wall. A visit is recommended, especially if you are partial to unusual cocktails.

Dark chocolate, cranberry Amaranth Oat Bars with Cashew, Coconut and CaramelDark Chocolate & Cranberry Amaranth Oat Bars with Cashews, Coconut & Caramel

Recipe courtesy of McCormick

Serves: 24

Amaranth is a gluten-free food and a source of complete protein. It contains all the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in most grains. High in fiber and a good source of magnesium and iron, Amaranth has a rich history dating back 8000 years, when it was first cultivated in Mesoamerica. If customers are trying to abstain from pudding, how can they resist this ‘healthy’ option with a hot drink?


  • 400g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa), chopped into chips
  • 275ml maple syrup
  • 125ml honey
  • 175g almond butter
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 325g amaranth
  • 50g quick cook oats, toasted
  • 75g desiccated coconut
  • 75g salted cashews
  • 75g dried cherries or cranberries
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 225ml (8fl oz) double cream
  • 75g Dulce de Leche, or thick caramel sauce


  1.  Place half the chocolate chips in a bowl and into the freezer. Combine maple syrup and honey in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add almond butter, 3 tsp cinnamon and seeds from the vanilla pod, mix well.
  2. Pop the amaranth by heating a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add 2 tbs of the amaranth, cover pan with lid and cook for around 30 seconds, or until most grains have popped. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with remaining amaranth until all popped. Combine the popped amaranth with the toasted oats, coconut, cashews, cherries or cranberries and salt in a large bowl. Add the almond butter mixture and stir to coat all ingredients. Allow mixture to cool slightly, then add the frozen chocolate chips last.
  3. Line a 22 x 33cm pan with non-stick parchment paper. Press the mixture evenly into the pan then place in the fridge. While the mixture is cooling, place remaining chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl. Gently heat the cream in a saucepan with the empty vanilla pod and remaining 1 tsp Cinnamon, until just below boiling. Remove the vanilla pod, then pour over chocolate, stir mixture with a rubber spatula until chocolate and cream are smooth.
  4. Remove amaranth mixture from the fridge and pour chocolate ganache over the top to coat evenly. Heat Dulce de Leche on stove until warm, then drizzle over top of the chocolate in a swirl pattern. Return pan to the fridge for 1-2 hours until chocolate has set, then carefully remove from the pan using the parchment paper and cut into bars.
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