5 cool examples of the sweet & savory trend in bakery and patisserie

24 Jun 2024

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Food brands are pushing boundaries to deliver ever more bold and multidimensional flavor experiences to fascinate adventurous consumers. A lot of those groundbreaking innovations are bringing together sweet and savory flavors. The scallion latte proves that the sky truly is the limit when it comes to these flavor innovations. This viral drink – more than 40 million posts on TikTok! – combines a sweet and creamy latte with sharp, savory scallion rings. But in the bakery and patisserie sectors, there are many cool examples to be found too, from tried and tested maple bacon treats to pickle-flavored mochi.

Why sweet and savory flavors are trending

The fusion of sweet and savory flavors in bakery and patisserie is trending due to consumers' increasing desire for unique and complex taste experiences. According to our latest Taste Tomorrow global consumer survey, 67% of consumers are looking for new and exciting flavors in their food choices. This trend is also driven by the growing popularity of gourmet food culture, where the combination of sweet and savory elements is more common. Just think of vegetable desserts in upscale restaurants.

Additionally, social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have amplified the appeal of visually striking and innovative foods, making these hybrids a hit among food enthusiasts and influencers alike. It almost doesn’t matter if foods and drinks such as the scallion coffee are actually tasty, because the sampling of such products makes for very entertaining social media content. So the sweet and savory trend is both trending for its intriguing flavors as for its shock-value and the power weird combinations have to go viral online.

Decide for yourself in which category these five products that are clashing sweet and savory fall:

1. Maple Bacon Donut

The maple bacon donut by the artisanal Doce Donut Co. perfectly encapsulates the sweet and savory trend. You could see this as an entry-level application of this flavor trend. The donut combines the rich sweetness of maple syrup with the smoky, salty flavor of crispy bacon. The result is a complex and indulgent treat that balances creamy maple frosting with crunchy, savory bacon bits on top. 

The maple bacon donut works well, because consumers often already know the flavor combination from different (hearty) applications, so trying this snack isn’t too big of a gamble. The same goes for honey sea salt croissant rolls and salted caramel pretzel cookies. The sweet and savory flavors are tried and trusted.

  2. Caramelised Onion Mates

It’s not just sweet applications that get a savory twist, the trend works the other way around as well. In chips, popcorn and savory snacks we spot a lot of flavors that bring some sweetness. Caramelized onion, balsamic vinegar, honey or mango habanero are popular options at the moment. 

The caramelized onion mates by 34 Degrees are a gluten-free snack that have cheese as their number one ingredient. The savory cheese is complemented by the rich, sweet and hearty flavor of caramelized onion. When onions are caramelized, their natural sugars are released and undergo the so-called Maillard reaction, resulting in both a deep golden-brown color and a complex, slightly sweet taste. 

Food made from food

LÄRABAR is an example of a brand adopting this trend, promoting itself with the tagline ‘food made from food’. To keep it clean and simple, they use just 2 to 9 ingredients per product for their plant-based bars, cereal and brownies. They even state the number of ingredients on the front of their bar wrappers to be transparent towards consumers. As part of their food-made-from-food ideology, they use no artificial sweeteners or flavors and GMO ingredients are a no-go as well. All ensuring consumers LÄRABAR is a healthy, safe choice.

3. Pickle Mochi Ice Cream

Pickle flavor has become quite the sensation among young foodies. Pickles are everywhere at the moment. In 2023, Grub Hub reported a mind-boggling 89% increase in pickle orders.  Yelp data shows online searches for pickle-flavored foods have gone up 55%. No less than 69% of consumers report they like or love pickles, states Datassential. Being a lover of pickles is being used as a personality trait. People are even shopping for pickle sweaters, hats and accessories as Etsy reports a 41% increase in searches for pickle-related items.

No wonder pickle-flavored offerings are popping up left and right, from pickle popcorn and pickle ketchup to now: pickle mochi. This innovative dessert by My Mochi combines the chewy texture of mochi with the tangy, savory flavor of pickles, creating a refreshing and unexpected treat. It’s a testament to how far pickle mania has come. As more brands continue to experiment with this tangy trend, it's clear that the humble pickle has transcended its status as a mere side dish to become a major flavor phenomenon in its own right. 

4.  Double Cheese & Sundried Tomato donut

Bakery and pastry hybrids that combine sweet and savory concepts are all the rage. The Double Cheese & Sundried Tomato donut is a perfect example of such a sweet and savory crossover. Renowned UK sourdough donut bakery Crosstown created its first-ever savory donut in collaboration with cheesegeek.

The cheese doughnut – also referred to as the Fondue-Nut – consists of Crosstown’s signature sourdough with sundried tomatoes and then finished with a Rutland Red cheese glaze, piped with a nutty Spenwood cheese custard and topped with spiced peanuts. The two British cheeses are selected by cheesegeek, who is focused on sourcing the finest cheese the country has to offer. 

The tangy sour and the rich cheese complement each other very well. The cheese adds a rich, savory dimension to the typically sweet doughnut. In turn, the donut’s soft texture contrasts with the sharpness of the cheese. These savory snacks can be enjoyed at any time of day, from breakfast to a late-night snack.

5. Chocolate sourdough, black garlic and cocoa butter

Award-winning pastry chef Joanna Yuen focuses on fine-dining quality umami desserts that bring together sweet and savory. All desserts at her online Hong Kong pastry shop Otera have some umami element in them. From the Salted Pandan and Lemongrass Flan Cake to the Soy Sauce Caramel Flan Cake or her Miso Dark Chocolate Cookies. 

One of the most intriguing options is the chocolate sourdough, black garlic and cocoa butter treat. According to the website, it offers a “weird but wonderful new plane of deliciousness”. The chocolate-flavored sourdough bread is served with black garlic and cocoa butter that are meant to be eaten together. Black garlic has a unique taste profile that combines sweet, savory, and tangy elements. The aging process that black garlic undergoes reduces its pungency and results in a softer, more complex flavor compared to raw garlic. The snack doesn't just bring sweet and savory flavors together, but it also transforms the most humble savory meal – bread and butter – into a gourmet treat. 

Chocolate bars with savory flavors

The sweet and savory crossover can be found in the chocolate category as well. Especially the more niche chocolate producers aren’t afraid to try extraordinary flavors, such as an olives and bread dark chocolate bar. 

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