Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Tracking Dessert Trends Four opportunities for the sweet side of the menu

Lemon Meringue Tart featuring Haliburton Lemon Curd and Raspberry Sauce
PHOTO CREDIT: Haliburton International Foods


Robert Le Sage, Corporate Chef, Haliburton International Foods

You’d be hard pressed to find someone in our industry who tracks trends closer than Robert LeSage, Corporate Chef for Haliburton International Foods, a specialty foods processor. It’s all in a day’s work, really, staying ahead of the trend cycle so the company can offer the flavors and ingredients that attract consumers. We asked him to share emerging opportunities in the dessert category, as well as a little of his story.

4 Dessert Trends I’m Watching:

1. Savory Infusions

We continue to see more savory inclusions in dessert items, from herbs and vegetables to techniques such as adding smoky notes to fruits, ice creams and sauces. Desserts are becoming more complex and balanced regarding flavor—they are no longer just an overly sweet finish to a meal.

2. Nostalgic Desserts

Bringing consumers back to their favorite childhood dessert fulfills not only their desire for something sweet, but it also provides an emotional connection.

3. Instagrammable

Instagram is a fabulous marketing tool that is free, and chefs are making desserts that are more colorful, more decadent, bigger, gooier and more Instagrammable for that reason!

4. Chile Infused Accents

As consumers’ interest in global flavor trends continue to rise so does the addition of a variety of chiles in dessert items. We are still seeing most chile infusions being used in chocolate desserts like cakes, brownies, ice cream, sauces, custards, puddings, ganaches, etc. However, we’re seeing a broader range in the variety of chiles being used here, from guajillo, ancho, chipotle to puya, cascabel and bird’s eye.


I work directly with the chefs of large national restaurant chains in creating new and innovative menu concepts, as well as custom food products. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in 2003 with a degree in Baking & Pastry, I worked in a variety of foodservice establishments as a pastry chef for over 10 years prior to joining Haliburton. At Haliburton, I am still able to put my pastry background to use when developing new dessert concepts and custom dessert products for our customers.

Haliburton provides custom solutions in the dessert category by working hand in hand with the chefs in developing new products. First, we listen to what their needs are on the specific project and develop the requested product accordingly. Then, we make adjustments/revisions to the product if needed until the customer is happy. We pride ourselves on being a trend forward, innovative custom food product manufacturer with clear and concise communication from inception to execution in our state-of-the-art production facility.

Some of Haliburton’s offerings in dessert sauces/toppings including but are not limited to:

  • Traditional fruit sauces: raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, mixed berry, orange, lemon, peach, pineapple, passion fruit
  • Non-fruit dessert sauces: crème anglaise, caramel, chocolate, toffee sauce, salted caramel, bacon caramel, espresso sauce, bourbon-brown sugar, peanut butter sauce
  • Fruit compotes: raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, mixed berry, mango, pineapple, peach, apple, cherry and any combination
  • Fruit curds: lemon, lime, passion fruit, orange, key lime

Clean Mission

With consumers being more aware and cautious of the foods they are consuming, one of our main goals when creating products is to keep the list of ingredients as short and clean as possible. Especially when developing dessert sauces, it is best to let the ingredients speak for themselves.

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