Ingredient Focus 2015: Desserts

The latest trends, news, and products in the Middle East dessert market


Hannah Kassam explores the latest trends, news and products captivating the Middle East’s dessert industry


Cresco Gelato

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Aramtec has introduced a new line of gelato under the Cresco range in the UAE and Omani markets. It is an Italian product, and is the result of 40 years of experience in the pastry world, explains Riyadh Hassan, sales and marketing manager for Aramtec’s pastry division. The line features more than 200 products and allows ice cream outlets to create their own artisan gelatos. “Our Linea Gelateria verifies once more our philosophy of growth, based on innovation, attention to market needs, quality and reliability of service as well as the permanent advancement in the sense of the handicraft production of our customers,” he says.

Frozen Cheesecake

Pacific Valley has launched a line of frozen single-serve all natural cheesecakes, made from scratch, without using pre-mixes. The range features 25 flavours, is gluten-free and without added sugar. “Each flavour is hand-made for that home style appearance and taste. Our ingredients come from locally sourced dairies in the fertile lands of the Pacific Northwest in Washington State,” says Susan Hannah, vice president, Pacific Valley Foods.

Latest news

Less truly is the new more. While consumers are still enjoying a sweet treat every now and again, it appears health concerns are taking precedent. Outlets and suppliers have responded to this by creating smaller portions or mini desserts as Pacific Valley’s Susan Hannah points out: “Smaller servings and…healthy desserts are all trends”.

Abdul Kader Saadi, MD at Glee Hospitality Solutions, adds that consumers are seeking out smaller desserts and healthier options lately, “with just enough sweet to satisfy their taste buds”.

This will continue to be a strong trend throughout the rest of the year predicts Riyadh Hassan, sales and marketing manager for Aramtec’s pastry division. Chefs will continue to experiment with mini desserts and consumers will continue to form an appreciation for bite–sized offerings which don’t cost too much and — being ideal for sharing — “reduce the guilt associated with eating sweets”, says Hassan.

SugarMoo is in the process of combined flavour experimenting and launched a number of desserts to reflect this. The so–called “hybrid desserts” explore two different ingredients combined “to make unbelievably creative and delicious concoctions” explains Raki Phillips, co-founder of SugarMoo Desserts. Some of the launches so far include Brownie Bombs: a brownie ball stuffed with halawa. Another example is the firm’s selection of Cupookies.

It is not unusual these days when you see old things coming back into fashion. Take bootleg pants or leggings as a classic example. And it appears the same occurs in the dessert world too. Spontiphoria is bringing back old school favourites from drizzle cakes and millionaire shortbread to ginger cookies.

Founder and chef Sidiqa Sohail tells Caterer: “We are focusing on whimsical flavours and classic items that make people remember the good old days when life was simpler and days slower.”


Serge Decrauzat, executive pastry chef at the Grand Hyatt, Dubai, shares his recipe for panache

Lychee Mousse


• 168g lychee purée
• 10.5g corn flour
• 5g gelatine leaves
• 45g sugar
• 168g heavy cream 35%, lightly whipped


• Soak gelatine leaves, keep aside.
• Boil lychee purée with sugar, and add the cornflour and water dilute.
• Cook until thick and shiny, add the bloomed gelatine and let cool.
• When the above mixture gets to the room temperature without any lumps, fold the whipped cream and use as a mousse.

Raspberry Gelée


• 200g purée
• 30g sugar
• 5.5g gelatine


• Boil the purée with sugar and add the bloomed gelatine. Set in the deep tray.

Pain de gênes


• 220g eggs
• 224g almond powder
• 40g hot butter
• 40g flour
• 2.8g baking powder


• Beat the eggs and almond flour together until light and fluffy.
• Sift and fold in the dry ingredients; finish with the melted butter.
• Just before baking, sprinkle some mixed frozen berries.
• Then bake at 170°C in a rectangle frame as per the desired height.


• Place a rectangle shape flexi mould, pipe a small portion of lychee cream, and start applying it all around the sides with a small offset spatula.
• Place the frozen raspberry jelly cut in rectangular shape. Cover the rest of the mould space with lychee cream and freeze.
• Demould the above and spray with white chocolate spray (100g white chocolate and 40g cocoa butter) and freeze. Place it on top of rectangle–sliced pain du gênes.
• Garnish this with fresh raspberry filled with raspberry sauce, gold leaf and red coloured square chocolate décor.

Desserts are a busy and profitable sector in the Middle East — we speak to people working in this sweet industry in the region to find out what consumers are demanding, and where the challenges and opportunities lie

What are consumers demanding when it comes to desserts?

The movement toward healthier eating has never been stronger. This can make it a real challenge when it comes to desserts which traditionally are all about sugar, artificial flavouring and colourings. Outlets have had to revisit menus to ensure they are offering the healthy and better–for–you options consumers are looking for today.

Spontiphoria has ensured a wide selection of sugar–free and gluten–free items “to cater to the health–conscious dessert fans”.

Glee Hospitality Solutions MD, Abdul Kaader Saadi agrees “managing consumer expectations is really hard” where today’s dessert market is concerned. Studying the market needs and exploring what health trends consumers are following allows you to effectively cater to their needs, he says.

What are some of the challenges facing the dessert sector?

Competition appears — as in many industries — a significant challenge for dessert manufacturers. While Sidiqa Sohail of Spontiphoria agrees that this is “a good kind of challenge that pushes you to excel”, there is a real flooding in the market of everyone trying to “emulate the current trend without really being creative themselves” which she suggests can bore consumers.

Aside from this is competition in terms of pricing. Raki Phillips of SugarMoo explains that one of the biggest challenges is the volume problem where suppliers “offer tremendously discounted dessert items that don’t use quality ingredients” and compete with those trying to offer better quality products that naturally would cost a little more.

“A lot of the pastries you see at most of the popular cafés have outsourced them and they tend to be bland with very little creativity and lack freshness,” he adds.

What are dessert chefs demanding from suppliers?

Quality, quality, quality. It is what chefs have been shouting about for years and will do so for years to come, predict industry experts.

From freshness to consistency in delivery, quality remains key. “We expect our suppliers to visit us on a regular basis and to stay up to date with the latest trends, up–and–coming products or new techniques, to see what issues can occur in the coming four months in order to plan together ahead of the deliveries and to agree on quantities,” says The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi executive pastry chef Laurent Allereau.

It is the quality of the ingredients that allows the chef to make something “outstanding”, says Molten ME chef Mahesh Kumarasiri. “Consumers want quality food at affordable prices; hence, we make sure that the product and ingredients are fresh. The list would also include product availability, and timely delivery would go a long way in sustaining the consumers’ satisfaction.”

Are there any concerns regarding sourcing of particular dessert ingredients?

Relationships between outlets and suppliers are always in the spotlight in the F&B world, and these can be of the make–or–break kind, when it comes to delivering a high standard of product to the consumer.

The Clinton Baking Co’s Alexi Mostert says one of the challenges his outlet faces is getting consistent product supply that meets its quality and needs. “We place such a high emphasis on the best ingredients available so having them available is critical to what we do as we never want to compromise.”

Of course creativity sets one outlet apart from the next. Allereau says that while suppliers are often forthcoming with showcasing the latest product innovations, low order volumes can often result in disappointment. “If, for some reason, I am the only one interested in a new product, the supplier will not import it only for me alone. The only way that I am able to have it delivered would be by air freight directly from the country of origin driving the cost of the dessert higher — and I wouldn’t want to pass it on to the customer.”

Aside from this is the constraint of operating a business in an arid dessert region where there are challenges in local agriculture and farming. SugarMoo’s Phillips explains that while the outlet prides itself on using only “natural, top quality ingredients” and takes active efforts to avoid frozen produce and artificial sweeteners, it has meant in the past the outlet discontinues a dessert because they couldn’t get hold of an ingredient.

Is the health aspect taking precedence over indulgence?

Today’s consumer is savvy and switched on when it comes to what is and isn’t good for them. Access to instant information via the internet and smartphones means consumers know immediately what they should and should not be eating, and can make informed decisions.

Glee Hospitality Solution’s Kader says: “When you have consumers who know what they want, it becomes difficult for brands to neglect the health aspect. And if they do they won’t survive much longer.”

This shift has also resulted in the popularity of sharing desserts growing, says Allereau, that is if consumers don’t opt for a small portion to start with.

But this isn’t necessarily a negative thing, explains Mostert. “It is about trying to create desserts that customers love, but preparing it in a smarter, healthier and lighter way. At the end of the day, it comes down to using fresh and real ingredients instead of processed substitutes. Your body will always handle real ingredients better, and you will feel better even if you decide to indulge in something sweet.”

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