Consumers want it all. They want flavor and texture with clean labels and no chemicals. “It’s got to taste good first and foremost,” says Rhonda Delaney, vice president, sales & merchandising for Lawrence Foods, Inc.
And keep the flowers coming, Delaney recommends, because “consumers love them! And everyone’s looking for the next unicorn… will it be llamas, flamingos or mermaids? Whatever you choose, make a bold display work for you.”
Mark Seaman, Certified Master Sugar Artist and specialty application chef for Barry Callebaut North America, points out that llamas are trending, without a doubt. “I call the llama the new unicorn,” he quips. “Create a display in your shop that shows a cohesive design for a llama-themed party: a cake, cupcakes, and decorated sugar cookies all featuring the llama.”
Also, tropical fruits are on the rise, so Seaman recommends incorporating guava or dragonfruit into your cake fillings and icings.
“Coconut sugar carries a healthy halo as an alternative sugar,” he adds. “Experiment with coconut sugar in your cake base. Or try Coco Niu, a coconut sugar-based chocolate from Van Leer. Oat milk is emerging as the next milk alternative for both lactose-intolerant consumers, as well as those seeking a healthy alternative to cow’s milk.”
Another flavor to incorporate is avocado, which has a mild flavor that pairs well with others including chocolate. “Avocado delivers a rich and creamy mouthfeel,” Seaman says, “and its natural fattiness accentuates a cake’s flavor profiles.”
Shawna LeMott, marketing manager for Lucks Food Decorating Company, agrees that cake artists should get ready for spring 2019 desserts that are good-for-you, in many ways.
“Customers are looking to treat themselves with indulgent pick-me-ups that make them happy, while also keeping an eye on natural ingredients,” she says. “Two of the dessert trends to watch for this coming season are Farmers Market and Happy Place.”
For an upscale yet humble style, the Farmers Market trend looks luxuriously homemade with subdued colors and decorations inspired by nature, according to Lucks. Messages appear handwritten and decorations are sweetly doodled or foraged from the meadow. Play with subtle textures, like monochromatic icing details, or use a putty knife to add interesting brushstrokes of icing that form petals or leaves. Get inspired by the textures of home like knit and needlepoint.
And don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers — pressed edible blooms, curling ferns and lovely butterfly wings take the cake this coming season. Farm animals and cute critters like lambs, chickens, cows and pigs bring sweet characters to these outdoorsy treats.
Bakeries looking to tap into their community’s fan base should feature locally sourced ingredients as special edition flavors. And of course, the trend for natural and clean label ingredients continues to grow, so incorporating natural food dyes is a great way to appeal to more customers.
For Easter desserts, think speckled and earth-toned eggs amongst flower-filled baskets, Lucks recommends. Textures include woven patterns and grass, while hopping bunnies and lusciously green-topped carrots add seasonal touches.
For a bright and ageless spring style, the Happy Place trend really brings customers to the counter and begs to be shared on social media, according to Lucks. Rather than your typical spring pastels, icing and color palettes are bold and saturated. Splashes of rainbow colors contrast shining metallic airbrushed details. Messages are humorous and spontaneous, full of imagination and often paired with expressive faces. Seascapes, tropics and citrus fruits find their way into spring treats, like a carefree escape to your happy place no matter the season. Inanimate objects like fried eggs and avocados add a cheeky touch to sweet desserts.
Novelty flavors are often sought after for the nostalgic, feel-good sentiments they provide. Strawberry lemonade, root beer and lavender are some popular ingredients for spring 2019. Fresh fruit is a trendy garnish as well as flavor enhancer, pairing nicely with bright poolside scenes or seascapes. Small serve is a great way to go, so customers can take that risk on new flavors or get just enough dessert to share with their loved ones without overindulging.
For a Happy Place Easter think bright neon, pops of gold and geometric shapes. Egg-cellent messages and unusual flavor pairings or ingredient mash-ups will make customers shout “Hip Hop Hooray!” Get whimsical and creative, either with unexpected color tinting or overloaded edible icons like bunny ears, eggs and the odd cactus to keep them on their toes. Contrasting colors are often not fully mixed into icings for an artistic look, while tiered cakes feature a different shaped cake at each level. Small desserts combine for a creative and unique treat, like donut cakes, that can be shared and personalized.