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How To Design a Balanced Dessert Menu For Your Restaurant

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January 25, 2024

Desserts are an excellent add-on opportunity for restaurants to increase sales and impress customers. To stand out among the crowd, you want to design a balanced and inviting dessert menu. Here are a few ways you can plan a balanced dessert menu that will wow your restaurant guests.

5 Steps to Plan a Dessert Menu Everyone Will Love

Ask a room full of people for their ideas on the best dessert, and you’ll get a wide range of answers. Some diners gravitate towards light, fruit-laden treats, others want decadent chocolate, while certain guests want gluten and dairy-free options. If you're going to create a dessert menu that appeals to the masses and rakes in higher sales, you’ll want to offer a variety of choices.

1. Think About Flavors, Temperatures, and Textures

Variety might indeed be the spice of life. Restaurant owners can tap into this philosophy by giving customers a collection of desserts without creating an extensive menu. Consider making a limited menu that touches on some classics and flavor-profile heavy hitters. 

  • Warm brownies topped with ice cream and a caramel sauce offer a blend of temperatures and textures that are sure to please.
  • Light fruit tarts with a custard base can appeal to diners looking for a chilled dessert with seasonal flavors and a flaky crust.
  • Creamy cheesecake finished with a crunchy nut brittle can satisfy customers looking for a toothsome bite.

2. Include Options for Different Dietary Lifestyles 

3.1 million Americans follow a gluten-free diet. Flexatrain and plant-based eating also have a large consumer following. Increase your consumer base by giving diners more dairy-free, gluten-free, and health-focused dessert options.

3. Surprise Guests with Signature Creations

Let your restaurant's unique brand drive dessert innovation. Creating signature sweet treats that align with your overall menu concept can entice your customers to add a dessert enhancement to their menu. 

Assess your menu to identify some of your flavor profiles and cuisine type. Let these be your guide in developing house dessert specialties. Are you known for your Greek-inspired pub food? Try a baklava-inspired ice cream with cinnamon, pistachio, and honey. Is your innovative bistro known for seasonal fare? Create a rotating tart that combines seasonal fruit with bold, global flavors. For a wine-themed restaurant, why not incorporate vino into a luscious chocolate cake like this molten merlot treat?

4. Keep the Amount of Dessert Selections Manageable 

You want to offer a variety of sweet items on your restaurant menu without overwhelming your guests or your pastry chefs with too many choices. Streamline your dessert menu and offer three to seven sweet treats that highlight your cooking style. The amount of total offering will depend on your overall restaurant and menu concept.

5. Leverage Your Dessert Menu Design

Menu design plays a huge role in how customers select items. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when structuring your dessert menu:

  • Arrange popular (and profitable) items at the top of your menu. Diners are often drawn to the first items on a menu list, which can influence their choice.
  • Keep the ingredients unique for each dish, and avoid repetition. For example, if you are working on a seasonal menu and blackberries are at peak freshness, create one gorgeous signature dish instead of incorporating the berries into multiple offerings.
  • Use dessert descriptions that are approachable and straightforward. If a guest can’t understand what the dessert is made of, there is a chance they might forgo trying it out.

These 5 Items are Trending on Dessert Menus

Looking for ideas to inspire your upcoming dessert menu? Check out these top-rated desserts that customers love.

1. Pies and Cobblers: Who doesn’t love a great pie or cobbler? The options are endless, letting restaurants get creative with their offerings. Plus, they are a great way to use leftover fruit in chef’s specials and reduce food waste

2. Cheesecake: Creamy, smooth, and airy, cheesecake is a crowd-pleaser. To maximize your kitchen prep time, procure a high-grade pre-made cheesecake. Then top it with your own signature ingredients like ginger caramel or house-made compote. 

3. Ice Cream: While this chilly dessert might seem simple, it offers many innovative flavors and applications. Make a dessert-worthy boozy milkshake with peanut butter ice cream and whiskey. Try an olive oil version or a plant-based coconut ice cream.

4. Churros: Doughy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, churros are a favorite among diners. Serve them with rich dipping chocolate, and you have an easy dessert to satisfy your patrons. 

5. Crème Brûlée: This dessert is a master class in textures and flavors. The interior custard is velvety, and the exterior sugar crust crackles.

Amp Up Your Dessert Menu with Bulk Supplies from US Foods CHEF’STORE

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Save time and money and have top ingredients delivered directly to you, or visit one of our local baking supply stores

The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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