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Tradition and new twists meet in holiday desserts

3 min read


Autumn’s chilly temperatures typically herald a shift from fresh fruit and other warm-weather treats to more indulgent desserts, and the shift continues as the mercury falls and the holidays approach.

Some 49% of Americans who bake for the holidays use classic recipes rather than experimenting with new trends, according to a survey from Fleischmann’s Yeast and Karo Syrup. Ninety seven percent of Americans serve pie during the holidays and 48% serve three or more different kinds, the survey found. Familiar flavors win with consumers as well, with 78% using cinnamon, 67% picking pumpkin, 65% adding apple, 53% spicing things up with nutmeg and 34% including cranberry.

Pumpkin’s popularity has soared in recent years, spurred in large part by popular pumpkin spice coffees at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts signaling the start of the season. Dessert makers are using the traditional favorite to create new sweet treats for the holidays, including Marie Callender’s which launched a Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie this holiday season. Along with a new twist on the traditional pumpkin, the company also offers a primer on the history of pie and why it’s a holiday table staple.

Hot chocolate has also emerged as a hot winter flavor, according to Food Business News, with Nabisco boasting Hot Cocoa flavored Chips Ahoy cookies, complete with marshmallows; Clif Bar releasing a hot chocolate flavored bar made with 70% organic ingredients; Mars making hot chocolate flavored M&Ms made with dark chocolate; and Nestle making break-and-bake hot cocoa flavored cookie dough.

S’mores is another chocolate and marshmallow confection that’s been catching on as chefs and packaged goods companies turn the traditional campfire treat into cakes, pies, cookies and other indulgent desserts, according to a Datassential report from earlier this year. S’mores influenced desserts are now on 2% of restaurant menus, and the number of S’mores flavored products has jumped 133% since 2010, the report said.

Chocolate is the favorite cake flavor among US consumers all year long, the Datassential report found, with 65% of consumers saying they most often eat theirs at home. Yellow cake, white cake, carrot cake and red velvet cake round out the top five list of most popular cakes. The report also found that consumers more often preferred home-baked cakes, whether from scratch or from a mix, to packaged cakes.

Pinterest offers adventurous bakers ideas for turning traditional holiday flavors into new desserts, such as Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust, Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler, Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Cake with Apple Cider Glaze and Cinnamon Pumpkin Cookies.

But holiday dessert fans don’t need social media to share their favorites — 64% say they have shared a treasured dessert recipe with friends and family and 55% have shared pictures of their creations, according to the Fleischmann’s survey.


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