Trending Desserts with a Healthier Twist

Last updated on January 26th, 2020

The latest desserts are innovative, eye-catching, and healthier than ever before.

What’s New in Desserts

Looking for the latest desserts to die for? Then you’ve come to the right place! This “New in Desserts” guide for bakers, chefs, patisserie owners, and anyone working in the food industry will tickle your taste buds, make your mouth water, and fill your customers’ palate with delectable delights. The latest trends in dessert menus are innovative, creative, outrageous, and simply divine…

The Latest Desserts Reflect Food Industry Trends

So, what makes this year’s sweets and confectionaries such a standout? If you’re been following up-and-coming food industry trends, you already know that demand for healthy, more nutritious foods is on the rise, as is consumer craving for savory and exotic tastes, wholesome non-run-of-the-mill grains, nostalgic comfort foods, and tropical flavors. This year’s hottest desserts reflect these trends, as evidenced in recipes with a ‘better-for-you’ spin and in unprecedented concoctions such as hummus shakes, grain-free granola, Mexican hot-chocolate sauces, passion-fruit whipped creams, gluten-free sandwich cookies (aka alfajores), chocolate-chip avocado doughnuts, and more.

Healthier Sweets

Also new on the menu of nutritious desserts are baked goods featuring less artificial ingredients, more whole grains or no grains at all, low-fat and no-fat alternatives, diabetic recipes, and heart-healthy options which allow customers to have their cake and eat it too!

But the real dessert revolutionaries will simply blow your mind! It’s time to put the usual dessert fanfare aside to make room in your stomach for groundbreaking end-of-the-meal options. Imagine ordering roasted sweet potato with condensed milk and toasted quinoa for dessert; no-bake peanut butter squares made from protein power, maple syrup, and coconut oil; sautéed cinnamon-nutmeg apples slices; orange zest brown-sugar custard, and more. In the words of pioneering and renowned chef Elizabeth Faulkner (author of Demolition Desserts), what we can look forward to is “a delicious way to eat better!”

New in Dessert Textures

Making the grade among pastry chefs and premier dessert chefs are recipes which mix together new textures, flavors, and colors. From crackly, crunchy and crumbly to earthy and nutty, playfulness and creativity are adding extra layers of flavor to old and new recipes alike. For example, check out one of the latest standouts in the dessert industry. Putting a new face (and a new taste) on nachos are buñuelos, also known as sweet tortilla crisps. Whether they are used whole, broken, or crushed, they are versatile in flavor and take to cinnamon and sugar like hot butter on a bun. Alternatively, imagine the sweet smell of buñuelos smothered in macerated berries, drizzled with wild berry sauce, and topped with a sprig of fresh mint and mounds of cinnamon whipped cream…

New in ice cream desserts

New in Ice Cream Desserts

Adding a new twist to your favorite frozen menu offerings are fried ice cream sandwiches: Take two tortillas, sandwich them around passion-fruit ice cream, brush with egg whites and toasted coconut flakes, drizzle with hot chocolate sauce, and bake to a crisp. And when it comes to up-and-coming ice creams flavors, satisfy your sweet temptations with the allure of:

  • Avocado-mango ice cream
  • Ice cream sundae topped with savory caramel sauce and crushed pretzel streusel
  • Oreo-fudge-brownie ice cream cake sprinkled with cinnamon toast crunch and topped with bourbon sauce and a cherry
  • Coconut crumble on top of caramelized banana ice cream
  • Drizzled dark chocolate sauce with almonds atop Mascarpone ice cream laced with Turkish coffee…

New In S’mores

Putting a modern face on traditional s’mores are melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon-sugar brushed dessert nachos coated with dark chocolate chips and marshmallows, cooked tableside in a skillet and topped with crushed cinnamon graham cracker crumbs.

The Rise of Instagammable Desserts

What do you get when you combine the reign of the Internet and social media with the age of adventurous desserts? You get a food industry (dessert experts in particular) wisely capitalizing on the popularity of Instagram and Pinterest pictures to proudly display their wares. Turn baked goods, pastries, pies, and other confectionaries into eye-catching works of art. Look for scrumptious cakes, cupcakes, éclairs, and petits gâteaux topped with trending colorful glazes and shiny finishes to get desserts, described as “best” by executive pastry chef Sylvain Bortolini, that look as good as they taste.

Mini Desserts are All the Rage

Miniature desserts, in the form of a selection of pétits fours and pastries served together on a platter, are all the rage among dessert aficionados and lovers alike. Offering customers more variety, more flavors, and more unique pairings, mini desserts are a way to invite creativity and ingenuity into the baking process.

The rise of instagrammable desserts

But the mini-dessert trend is not entirely new! In fact, it has its roots in a trend called café gourmand. Originating in Paris, the first café gourmand featured an espresso and a selection of mignardises served together on a dessert tray. This was introduced as a way of saving time when ordering, as you were served your coffee and desserts at once.

What are the advantages of mini desserts?

  • They give customers the opportunity to sample several different ‘tiny’ selections without feeling guilty about the calories
  • They create an aura of mystery and surprise
  • Oftentimes the names of the desserts are purposely excluded from the menu, creating a sense of excited anticipation as customers don’t know what they’ll be getting when dessert arrives

New in Chocolate Fondant

If you love mini desserts, you will also go gaga for Petits Gâteaux Assortis: an assortment of bite-sized baked sweets or small cakes. Center stage is chocolate fondant, a small chocolate cake with filling served hot and a’ la mode (topped with vanilla ice cream). These melt-in-your-mouth chocolate confections, which made their U.S. debut in the 1990s, have now been updated. The latest chocolate fondant variations include different flavors of ice cream, fruits, and even whiskey. And ‘putting icing’ on these new cakes are fondants made from stacks of crêpes separated by hot jam or berries!

Flour-Free Dessert Recipes

Replacing standard white flour are innovative dessert recipes that use grain substitutes such as wheat, red wheat, buckwheat, rye, and cooked potato cubes (instead of potato flour). Often providing a heartier and more distinctive flavor and texture, some recipe standouts include French pastry chef Zachary Golper’s Gluten-Free Salted Double Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies.

Also rising to stardom is sorghum, a gluten-free cereal grain native to Africa which actually ranks as the world’s fifth most commonly grown grain crop after wheat, rice, corn, and barley. Largely overlooked in the food industry until recently, sorghum has been dubbed ‘the greatest grain you’ve never tried.’

Desserts for Special Diets

Increasing numbers of vegetarian, vegan, paleo, lactose-intolerant, gluten-intolerant, allergic and otherwise health-conscious and health-restricted customers have given rise to an entirely new chapter in the restaurant business: Dessert recipes catering to special diets. Meeting unparalleled demand for menus that consider medical, dietary, and religious needs, eateries of all types and sizes are stepping up to the plate with offers of celiac-friendly, diabetic-friendly, dairy-free, fat-free, gluten-free, sodium-free, nut-free, Kosher, low-sodium, low-fat, and high-fiber desserts. These trends, in turn, have challenged chefs and bakers to concoct recipes which use ingredient substitutes, such as non-dairy oat, soy, and coconut milks, non-dairy cheeses, and desserts that can be made without the use of eggs or flour.

Spiced sugar donuts

Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, or Pumpkin-Spiced Sugar Donuts

If all this talk of desserts has whet your appetite for trying a far-out dessert, or if you are looking for variety (aka “the spice of life”), try your hand at this tantalizing recipe for baked (not fried) spiced sugar donuts flavored with your choice of sweet potato, butternut squash, or pumpkin.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. softened butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs or egg whites
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or add 1 tbsp. vinegar to 1/2 cup milk)
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato, butternut squash, or pumpkin (fresh or canned)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger (optional)


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)


  1. Cream together sugar, butter and eggs or egg whites. Gently add in the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Cover bowl with a cloth and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Roll out chilled dough on a slightly floured surface. Using a wide round-mouth glass or round biscuit cutter, cut out the rounds and place on a baking sheet.
  4. To create donut holes, use a small shot glass or 1-inch cutter to remove the center of each round. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Gather the cut-out rounds, re-roll, and use as well.
  5. Bake at 180C/350F for 20 minutes or until golden.
  6. Remove from heat and immediately coat donuts with the spiced-sugar mixture.
  7. Yield: 24 donuts

    Trending Desserts for Your Foodservice Business

    For a sure-fire way to satisfy your customers’ confectionery cravings and keep them coming back for more, add trending desserts to your menu. As a result, your business will enjoy the sweet smell – and taste – of success!

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