From the continued reign of the cupcake to the rise of gluten-free sweets, the Food Channel unveiled the 2011 top ten dessert trends. The consumer website teamed with sister company CultureWaves, Mintel International and the International Food Futurists to compile a list of what’s hot in the world of sweets.
Despite the feeling among some industry analysts that the cupcake may be past its prime, it ranked first on this year’s list.
“We tried to make them go away, but when we looked at the research, we saw that cupcakes are still trending upwards,” says Kay Logsdon, vice president and editor in chief of the Food Channel. As bakers continue to reinvent cupcakes–whether by making them savory or unique in shape or size–they remain a coveted indulgence. “As long as you keep reinventing them, they will keep people’s attention,” she adds. “When people are coming out of a bad economy and say, ‘I am going to treat myself to a little dessert,’ they want it to be fun.”
Second on the list–desserts containing savory, spicy or tart elements–reveals that Americans are experimenting with new flavors and telling their friends about them. “You didn’t used to find chile peppers or cumin in your desserts, and now you do. We keep looking for new combinations to give us something to talk about. [Consumers] like to have bragging rights about how adventurous their taste buds are.”
Also high on the list were protein-based desserts like cheese (4), as well as maturing American palates (5), demonstrating the influence of sophisticated, even European flavors. “For years, our knowledge came from what we learned from our moms,” Logsdon says. “Now, thanks to food TV, the internet and greater access to food knowledge, we know more and have more things to try.” She adds that as more young adults spend time in Europe than ever before, they adopt European traditions, such as a cheese course in lieu of cake or pie for dessert.
Additionally, multiple items on the list demonstrate our culture’s increased emphasis on wholesome, responsibly sourced ingredients. Among the trends are whole grain and gluten-free desserts (6) and raw and unprocessed sweets (7). The decline of wedding cakes (3), sweet little rewards (8), floral flavors in desserts (9) and dessert theatrics (10) round out the top ten.