With the world suffering some major upheaval over the last couple of years, from pandemics and wars to alarming inflation, everyone could use a little comfort, and consumers are leaning into comfort foods in a big way. One of the major hallmarks of this food category is warmth.
While you can certainly make recipes hot in temperature, adding the right spices can also imbue favorite dishes with heat, delivering the appealing warmth diners are looking for. What are some of the warming trends heading into the holiday season?
Colder weather brings a desire for the warmth of soups, stews, and a range of seasonal comfort foods. Desserts are no exception to this rule, which is why those in the food service industry should turn their eye to creating warm desserts or putting their own twist on classics.
Apple pie is a perennial fave when the holidays roll around, thanks to the number of apples available well into fall. For something a little different, consider apple dumplings, cobblers, and cakes.
You could also opt for unexpected ingredients. Sweet potatoes, for example, can be baked into breads and brownies, puddings and pies, and delectable cheesecake bars.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with rich, warm chocolate desserts like brownies and lava cake, but you’ll want to take them to the next level in order to impress seasoned palates.
Whether you’re serving hot toddies or non-alcoholic cocoas and ciders, hot beverages are a staple in the fall and winter seasons. How can you effectively add them to your menu or offer them as packaged products?
For example, if you offer a straight cocoa, it needs to have premium ingredients to ensure satisfaction. Or you could put a twist on a classic by adding seasonal or trending ingredients or flavor profiles.
Punching up cocoa with peppermint is nothing new, but what about adding flavors like hazelnut, cardamom, or even chiles that bring a whole new taste to the experience and increase richness and warmth?
Ingredients that Add Warmth and Comfort to Meals
According to Chinese medicine, there are foods that both cool and warm the body. Foods that are considered warming help to create energy and heat in the body, making them ideal for cold-weather consumption.
Tomatoes and red meat are two ingredients on this list, which is perhaps why people are drawn to pasta dishes like rich Bolognese and lasagna when the weather turns cold. Ham, lamb, and other hearty meats can also bring a hefty dose of warmth, as can butter.
Cherries, dates, leeks, squashes, and dark, leafy greens can also contribute to a warm diet, especially when cooked to add heat through temperature. Don’t forget grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
You may be noticing a trend here – many foods considered to add warmth to a recipe are naturally available in fall, as opposed to the brighter fruits and veggies of summer. Creating a seasonal menu is a great way to bring comfort and heat to the dining experience during colder months.
Heat Twice with Spice
All kinds of spices can add heat to dishes, and they need not create a burning effect. Garlic and onions are great examples of spices that add comforting warmth to a range of savory dishes. Rosemary, basil, and thyme also fit the bill, and if you want a bit of burn, a number of pepper profiles will do the trick.
As for sweeter dishes, additions like dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove can add lovely warmth. You may have noticed that many of these spices are featured in the pumpkin spice profile that’s become so popular.
The cooling temps of fall and winter necessitate a shift away from the raw ingredients and iced treats of summer. With the right warming ingredients and an eye toward making classic recipes your own, you can create a compelling menu that customers seeking comfort will love.
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