In 2019, we saw retro desserts make a comeback (holy sheet cake!), plus twists on old favourites (think pain au hot chocolat and Vegemite macarons). We enjoyed savoury additions, from pink peppercorn pastry to ras el hanout ice-cream, and dessert sambos in every form. We also benefited from less sugar, dairy, colourings and preservatives generally, with natural flavourings like matcha and tahini still ruling.
While some of these trends will roll into the new year, with a few set to really hit their stride, we ponder: what will the wonderful world of desserts look like in 2020?
In Australia, we tend to follow global trends, primarily from the US, then Europe and increasingly Asia, and they often arrive on our shores the following season or year. But we’re also unencumbered by tradition – talented pastry chefs and consumers alike – which leads to loads of creativity on home ground.
We spoke to three of Australia’s pastry pioneers – Darren Purchese of Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio, Rockpool Dining Group’s Riccardo Falcone and Zacharay Tan of Devon Cafe – who share their forecast for the next 12 months ahead and what they’re dreaming up this summer.
Less sugar, more vegetables and a side of ethics
“I think we’ll see a reduction in refined sugar and a rise in alternative sweeteners, such as honey, stevia and dates. There will also be a demand for more ethically sourced produce, local ingredients and thoughtful packaging solutions," says Darren Purchese, chef and co-owner of Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio.
"Desserts will also be more fruity and in some cases contain vegetables. Summer is amazing for produce with cherries, peaches, nectarines, berries and mangoes, and I love creating (and eating) desserts at this time of year, as they are generally lighter and less sweet," he adds.
"My menu will comprise of some of my signature flavours, as well as new creations. Being a hot Aussie summer, ice-cream is definitely a must, including more flavours for my Bombe Alaska range.”
All-natural, plant-based and vegan aplenty
“In 2019, there was a global move away from colourings, preservatives and chemicals, and towards healthier, all-natural food – including dessert. Australia is catching on to this trend, so I expect 2020 to be the year for this to really take off here," says Riccardo Falcone, executive pastry chef of the Rockpool Dining Group.
"Vegetarian and vegan-friendly desserts are also going to soar. Vegan means no eggs or dairy; while dairy isn’t too difficult [to remove from pastries], eggs create structure in desserts – it’s like cement for builders – so creating something egg-free is far more challenging," he adds.
"Vegetarian and vegan-friendly desserts are also going to soar."
"At Saké Restaurant & Bar, we sometimes have mochi on the menu, which is a soft sticky-rice dumpling. Typically, we serve it with green tea or hazelnut ice-cream – but if we switch this out for sorbet, it becomes a vegan dessert. For summer, we have a dessert called monaka, which sandwiches red bean paste and green tea ice-cream between two mochi wafers made from mochi. Again, the ice-cream can be replaced with sorbet for vegan guests."
Desserts-meet-drinks and reimagined nostalgia
“Bubble tea is a phenomenon that has merged the world of desserts into the world of beverages and tea. The lines have blurred because, if you really think about it, most of these drinks are desserts in a cup that can be consumed on the go with a straw," says Zacharay Tan, executive chef of Devon Cafe. For its spin-off eatery Dopa by Devon, he's creating a vegan "Dopa Shake" for summer. "Made with coconut milk and jelly, lychee purée, shaved ice and a hint of rose, it's floral, light and refreshing," he adds.
He believes regional classics or nostalgic desserts will also feature prominently in 2020, but with a twist or with reimagined flavours. "We’re currently working on a peach Melba Japanese parfait, which is pretty much a dessert in a sundae glass," he says. "We have also just started a black forest parfait with dark chocolate cake, whipped cream, morello cherry and cherry ripple ice-cream."
In this column, Dessert Date, I scour bakeries, patisseries and dessert joints from around the world for the hottest sweet trends, up-and-coming ingredients and game-changing pastry techniques.
We’ve taken inspiration from the classic French breakfast – rich hot chocolate served with flaky croissants – and made it ‘hotter’ with scorched Swiss meringue, which sweetens and enriches the hot chocolate with a luscious voluminosity, plus biscuit crumbs for crunch. #DessertDate