Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Katie Ayoub
September 8, 2019

Meringue is one of those ingredients that evokes great description: fluffy, gooey, crispy, light, airy. It’s also often paired with fabulous theatrics, from tableside torching to flambéing. Restaurant concepts are taking advantage of its miraculous texture, endless versatility and Instagram-ready drama, turning meringue-centric creations into thoroughly modern menu items, usually stoked with both whimsy and finesse. Here are five meringue-based formats and inspiring innovations within each.

1. Pavlova

Menu mentions of this meringue dessert are up 58 percent in the last four years, according to Datassential. Pastry chefs are spinning the formula—crispy-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside meringue topped with fruit and whipped cream—creating signature takes on this Kiwi classic, from on-trend flavor infusions to unexpected savory pairings.

Peach Pavlova with rose meringue and passionfruit curd
Aziza, Atlanta

“Everything Bagel & Schmear” Pavlova: Honey graham cracker meringue topped with sesame seed, poppyseed and toasted coconut, filled with cheese mousse and sour cherry jam
Dominique Ansel Bakery, New York

2. Savory-Sweet

Perhaps fueled by the trend in less-sweet offerings, menus across the country now boast intriguing meringue concoctions, where the inherent sweetness of the meringue is offset by clever savory elements.

Husk Meringue with corn mousse
Cosme, New York

Foie Gras Pavlova, with rhubarb and shaved Marcona almonds, cracked open tableside
Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis

3. Ice Cream Finish

From little caps of torched meringue on an ice cream scoop to a sundae topping choice of mini meringues, ice cream is finding a fantastic textural counterpoint in meringue. Flavoring the meringue with peppers, spices or botanicals also gives modern ice cream flavors yet another level of intriguing complexity.

Huckleberry Sundae: Spiced meringue, buttermilk cake, honey ice cream, basil
Pacific Standard Time, Chicago

Satsuma Orange Ice Cream with meringue and honeycomb candy
Crown Shy, New York

4. Eton Mess

Eton mess is newer on the scene here, but a brief menu description makes it a great platform for dessert innovation. A traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, broken meringue and whipped heavy cream, the parfait-like offering is wide open to interpretation.

Eton Mess with blackberries, bing cherries, milk ice cream and meringue
Lord Stanley, San Francisco

Eton Mess: Vanilla meringue, strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar and black pepper, whipped cream
LaLou, Brooklyn, N.Y.

5. Baked Alaska

This old-school dessert is seeing a resurgence, thanks to its formidable presence in a dining room and on social media. What’s not to love about ice cream and cake enrobed in browned meringue?

Baked Alaska with spumoni ice cream and espresso chocolate mousse
Oceanaire Seafood Room, Houston

Cotton Candy Baked Alaska with strawberry semifreddo, chocolate cake, roasted strawberries
Philippe Chow Downtown, New York

About The Author

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Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu. She has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 16 years and on the Flavor team since 2006. She won a 2015 Folio award for her Flavor & The Menu article, Heritage Matters. In 2006, she won “Best Culinary Article” from the Cordon D’Or for an article on offal.