When it comes to tempting diners with a little sugar, it’s simply a case of catching them at the right time with the right product: an afternoon tea, a takeaway pastry, or a free-from treat. Lisa Jenkins looks at the latest options
Executive pastry chef Thibault Marchand and pastry chef-consultant Erica Sangiorgi recently claimed the Bake Off: The Professionals 2019 title while working at the Kimpton Fitzroy London, with a finale including an afternoon tea fit for the king and queen of pastry, chefs Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden.
Their classical creations impressed the judges with their vibrancy and intensity, reflecting the current trend for authenticity combined with real concentration of flavour.
“The competition revolved around colour and, of course, flavour,” says Marchand, and this is reflected in his new Summer Rose Garden Afternoon Tea at the Kimpton Fitzroy, in partnership with Champagne house Laurent-Perrier. The tea is available until the end of August in the hotel’s Palm Court, which has been transformed into a rose garden in bloom, and includes sandwiches, pastries inspired by the flowers of a summer garden, and rose-flavoured scones served with cream, lemon curd and a raspberry, rose and Laurent- Perrier Cuvée Rosé jam created by Thibault.
The pâtisserie incorporates a rose-red gâteau filled with a chocolate and hazelnut mousse, cherry confit, a raspberry chocolate glaze and a raspberry tuille. In a twist on the classic French choux, it also features an éclair in the shape of a flower with white chocolate petals and a sugar-paste butterfly.
“Afternoon tea remains a popular occasion and has been one of the hospitality success stories of recent times,” says Charlotte Ganier, international development project manager at French food producer Tipiak, which supplies frozen, authentic French pâtisserie to the UK foodservice sector.
“According to OpenTable, afternoon tea bookings increased by 54% from 2016 to 2018. One of the reasons is that it is a delightful way to mark a number of occasions, whether that’s a birthday, a baby shower, a hen party or some other celebration.
“Macarons have been a huge hit on Instagram in recent years – more than five million images have been posted on the social media site – and it’s helped to introduce a whole new generation to these sweet treats.”
Tipiak has launched a new selection of six Pop Macarons for foodservice in six fruit flavours: blackcurrant, lemon-yuzu, morello cherry, coconut, passion fruit and apricot. They are gluten free and certified by the French Association of Gluten Intolerance.
Chocolates of choice
Master chocolatier William Curley (pictured) earned his stripes working for Pierre Koffmann and Raymond Blanc. He started his career at the Savoy hotel, where he became the youngest chef-pâtissier in its history. He has achieved numerous accolades, including being a four-time winner of Britain’s Best Chocolatier and is a Master of Culinary Arts, an honour which is awarded by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.
Curley is a long-standing patron of foodservice and event caterer Searcys, and he and Searcys development chef Shaun Rowlands have created a series of seasonal packages to add to its conference and events offering, including a special chocolate-inspired menu.
The chocolate-themed menu featured a cauliflower and Berkshire Blue soup garnished with cocoa nibs; Rhug Estate venison loin with heritage carrots, spring greens and game chocolate sauce; a pre-dessert of orange and white chocolate granité; and a dessert of Willy’s chocolate mousse with brandy snap and Bailey’s cream.
Gordon Lauder, managing director of frozen food distributor Central Foods, says ruby chocolate is the on-trend dessert ingredient for 2019: “Dubbed ‘the fourth type of chocolate’, it’s made from unfermented cocoa beans, which have a red-pink colour,” he says. “The chocolate has a creamy, light, fruity/berry flavour that works perfectly with cheesecake and its unusual pink colour offers instant visual appeal.
“Frozen desserts play a key role in the vast majority of kitchens now, as they help to reduce waste, therefore saving money. Dessert orders are often driven by impulse and we all know that people eat with their eyes,” adds Lauder.
More unusual uses of chocolate come from private chef and food consultant Franck Pontais of Koppert Cress, who has a different take with his recipe for potato chips covered with 75% dark chocolate, clementine confit compote, and Shiso Green and Aclla cress.
Chocolatier Paul A Young is also stirring things up, changing a key ingredient in his best-selling sea salted caramel, voted the best salted caramel in the world, to Cornish Sea Salt. Young says: “I’m always looking for the best ingredients to include in my chocolates, and finally with Cornish Sea Salt I feel I have found the best salt possible. I love using British products. I’m really excited about what we are creating together.”
Three chocolates made by Young using Cornish Sea Salt have already won Academy of Chocolate Awards: a sourdough, buttermilk and sea salt chocolate; a rosemary and olive oil gianduja; and the ‘chip shop caramel’, a truffle using wakame seaweed and tenkasu – crunchy bits of deep-fried batter. Young is also experimenting with the wider Cornish Sea Salt range, which includes smoked sea salt and seaweed seasoning.
Pop out for a pastry
Luke Frost, Valrhona pastry chef for Northern Europe, believes premium sweet snacks to go are the emerging trend. “There is an increase in gourmet bakeries in London and, alongside independent coffee shops, they are all driving this trend, with hotels also upping their offer with picnics and travel cakes.”
Kate Sykes, marketing manager at Lantmännen Unibake UK, says its Portuguese custard tart or pastel de nata makes a perfect grab-and-go treat, with whole stores dedicated to the sale of the iconic pastry in London and elsewhere.
“Global flavours and formats are inspiring consumers and influencing their purchasing decisions. The Portuguese custard tart encapsulates current consumer desire for authentic flavours in an easy, hand-held format which can be enjoyed any time of the day,” she says.
Lantmännen’s Schulstad Bakery Solutions Portuguese custard tart is made just outside Lisbon in Portugal to a traditional recipe, and boasts a light, crisp pastry case, a sweet egg custard filling and a caramelised sugar finish. It is also baked from frozen, thereby minimising waste.
Another venerable product, matcha, is also making its mark in the UK. Fabien Levet, commercial manager at Pidy UK, says: “Matcha has been incorporated into all kinds of treats, such as macarons and tarts, because it adds an intriguing flavour as well as a fantastic vibrancy. There are a whole host of flavours, like yuzu, miso and black sesame, that are traditionally used in Japanese and Chinese culture and are set to become even more popular in 2019.”
Using recognised brands can add a point of difference to dessert menus, too. For example, Ferrero Foodservice has partnered with chef Francesco Mazzei, of Sartoria in London’s Mayfair, to create a new recipe series that celebrates the Ferrero praline collection. The new desserts were designed by the Italian chef to highlight the flavours of the Ferrero Rocher range, and he has created a raspberry and passion fruit tartlette with Ferrero Rondnoir, and a Ferrero Raffaello with bergamot cream.
Taking the healthy option
“Over the past year Valrhona has seen growth in dark couvertures,” says Frost. “We have observed a strong interest from customers for origin and aromatic profiles rather than for the cocoa percentage, highlighting the importance of the origin and terroir.
“In the UK and Scandinavia we have seen brightly coloured glazes, chocolate bonbons and viennoiserie fuelled by Instagram. The emerging trend is to ensure these colours and flavours are naturally derived. Titanium dioxide [white food colouring] has been banned in France and the knock-on effect is that food colours and transfer sheets manufactured there will be less bright.”
Lauder believes that although people are looking to eat more healthily, they are also still fond of treating themselves with a sweet treat. “Try offering a portion of dessert with two spoons as a way to encourage a purchase for two to share, which they might otherwise have skipped,” he says.
Zareen Deboo, foodservice channel operations manager at Ferrero UK and Ireland, says ‘responsible treating’ is becoming increasingly important for operators as consumers look for ways to self-moderate their portions: “We have always offered our products in smaller portions – with 95% of our products being under 150 calories – and as consumer habits continue to evolve this will help operators meet the growing demand,” she says. “This includes our Ferrero pralines, which are available as single wrapped portions, making them ideal for operators to add as a finishing touch to their desserts.”
Gluten-free but still good
Gluten-free options continue to be in demand and Aryzta Food Solutions has a new range of gluten-free bakery items. These include a soft rustic cinnamon and raisin sandwich baguette, a granola cookie crust cheesecake, a blueberry swirl cheesecake and an indulgent chocolate and beetroot layer cake.
Paul Maxwell, marketing manager at Aryzta Food Solutions, says: “With sales of gluten-free products predicted to increase by 25% by 2022, this is a market deserving of greater consideration by operators across hospitality. Coeliacs or those with a gluten intolerance want the confidence to know that what they are eating is safe, while operators need the confidence to serve food that meets these requirements and delivers on taste and quality.
“However, 55% of free-from consumers do not actually have an allergy or intolerance, nor do they live with anyone that does. Choosing free-from products is a lifestyle choice.”
To satisfy this demand, Central Foods has launched a new vegetarian and gluten-free ruby chocolate and raspberry cheesecake for the foodservice sector with a gluten-free dark cocoa biscuit base, topped with a light and creamy, fruity ruby chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, finished with a layer of dark chocolate ganache swirled with ruby chocolate.
Time for tea
Plate restaurant in Shoreditch in London has a new Afternoon Tea Academy created by chef-owner Arnaud Stevens in collaboration with Dananjaya Silva of PM David Silva & Sons.
The afternoon tea combines finger sandwiches, buttermilk scones, and pastries with a sampling of rare teas from PM David Silva & Sons, a family-owned company established in 1945 on the Brunswick Estate in the Maskeliya Valley as a small independent tea shop for tea plantation workers. The teas offered at Plate are:
Low Grown Ceylon Tea from Golden Garden Estate
A tea that is hand-picked and handmade by the tea maker at the Golden Garden estate. The tips are picked at sea level in Sri Lanka’s low-grown region of Ruhuna in rich soil that help produce strong, full-bodied characterful teas. This tea is malty with a bittersweet finish, ideal with sandwiches.
High Grown Ceylon Tea from Inverness Estate
Inverness Tea garden lies in the Dimbula valley of Ceylon, where it is produced to the traditional tea-making process. The wiry Orange Pekoe leaf produces a bright cup with a zesty, lemony note – the perfect accompaniment to scones or a pastry selection.
A light, golden tea, scented with bergamot, orange and lemon peel that leaves the palate refreshed. The perfect pairing to cakes.
Aryzta Food Solutions www.aryztafoodsolutions.co.uk
Central Foods www.centralfoods.co.uk
Ferrero Foodservice www.ferrerofoodservice.com
Koppert Cress https://greatbritain.koppertcress.com
Lantmännen Unibake www.lantmannen-unibake.co.uk
Paul A Young www.paulayoung.co.uk
PM David Silva & Sons www.pmdtea.com
Willam Curley www.williamcurley.co.uk