Romancing the Dessert Menu
Understanding the psychology of the end of meal 4 ways to get your diners to end their meals on a sweet note.
Whether an over-the-top sweet indulgence or an exquisite piece of cheese, dessert can take on different interpretations depending on diners’ tastes. And yet, there are many other factors that can influence the decision-making process. Make the last course an integral part of the overall experience – not merely an afterthought – and help increase sales and your overall meal profit (as high as 20% if you add drinks) with these valuable tips from Carmen Mak, Bakery and Culinary Specialist for Rich Products of Canada.
The Eyes Have It
“I believe that we eat with our eyes first,” says Carmen. “A beautiful picture can do wonders and entice customers to think about dessert as part of their entire meal.”
Consider a professional photographer and stylists, or if DIY-ing it, ensure proper lighting and composition. As well, keep props and background simple in order not to detract from what’s most important – creating a tempting, luscious-looking dessert image. If photography doesn’t suit your style, having desserts on display can be just the enticement needed. “We are led by our senses,” Carmen says. “I have seen people change their minds as to what they’re ordering because they see a server walking to another table with something appealing.”
Social Media-worthy Treats
People are heavily influenced by social media. “Before, a dessert’s job was simply to be delicious and be the perfect end to someone’s dining experience,” says Carmen. Nowadays, it’s a different story. “People will go to a place and order something so they can show the world that they were there and experienced it,” Carmen explains. “If something is “Instagrammable”, others will be enticed to experience it for themselves.”
Help fuel this trend by delivering on picture-perfect, buzzworthy desserts. Let diners promote your place while attracting others to come experience the same.
SUPER SPECIAL SWEETS
Dessert-focused concepts remain hot – a trend driven by restaurants devoted to refining classics such as decorated soft-serve cones, decadent doughnuts and artisan ice cream. Specialty flavours, indulgent toppings and eye-catching preparations will continue to generate excitement. And expect to see more ethnic specialties like Mexican paletas, Taiwanese shaved ice and Japanese-style cheesecake begin to move from innovative indies to chain restaurants and retailers.
Get Servers On-board
Servers are your best salespeople. “Servers are better equipped to sell something they’ve experienced,” says Carmen. “If the server has tried a dessert or dessert beverage and they love it, they are more likely to persuade their customers to try it.” He adds, “Customers can be easily influenced by server suggestions if they sense that there is honesty, education and interest backing it up. As a diner, I would be more excited about eating a dessert if my server was enthused about it.”
Hold educational tasting sessions so they can describe dishes to customers with knowledge and interest.
Share and Share Alike
Sharing is ideal for customers who are interested in dessert but perhaps feel a whole serving is too much. “I think ‘shareables’ are a great way to sell desserts,” says Carmen. “This is effective if everyone is close to full but they still want to have a bite of something sweet, or if someone doesn’t want to be the only person ordering dessert.”
Turn dessert into a sharing occasion by bringing multiple forks or small spoons. Alternatively, offer an array of mini-desserts, which could include individual small bites and dessert beverage sips. Either way, encouraging servers to pitch desserts early on in the meal ensures the idea is already front of mind.
WHITE CHOCOLATE AND CARDAMOM BREAD PUDDING
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup brown sugar
- seeds from 6 cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 cups whipping (35%) cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 cups bread cubes from Raisin and Walnut Ciabatta Miche (day-old)
- 2 oz white chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 cup almonds, chopped
CARAMEL SAUCE INGREDIENTS
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- In a large bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar and cardamom seeds. Stir in cream and milk. Add bread cubes and mix well.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer mixture to a 9” square cake pan or 10–12 four-ounce ramekins. Sprinkle with white chocolate and almonds.
- Bake in 9” pan for 55–60 minutes or bake in 10–12 four-ounce ramekins for 20 minutes. Serve piping hot or warm. If you prefer your pudding on the sweet side, try adding a little of our favourite caramel sauce.
- In a small saucepan, simmer ½ cup of the heavy cream with the ginger for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- In another small heavy saucepan, cook the sugar with the lemon juice over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar caramelizes to a light brown colour, 10–15 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tbsps of heavy cream. Remove from heat.
- Strain the cream into a bowl and whisk in the caramel until smooth. Serve warm.