16 Oct 2023
Ever catch yourself craving for a comforting moment, whether it's snuggling up with a soft blanket as the first cool days roll in or savoring a leisurely day outdoors in milder winter settings? The desire for coziness and warmth is a universal theme that defines the winter season, and this extends to what consumers crave in baked goods.
Discover the warming flavors consumers are craving for in winter.
According to our Taste Tomorrow 2023 global consumer survey among 20,000 consumers, 73% of consumers like to have a familiar element when trying new types of food. People seek solace in the familiar and so they opt for food products that evoke feelings of warmth and comfort. That is especially true for the winter months. This is the best time to offer consumers what they want: a new take on the classics they know and trust.
How? Worldwide, 72% of people like to try food with different textures and 69% like to try food in new formats. So turn that black forest cake into an eclair with choux dough or give your gingerbread cake a tres leches merengue make-over. Experiment with the shape, size, composition of your patisserie and bakery creations, but stick to the well-loved and well-known flavors.
Here are five of the traditional winter flavor profiles:
In the quiet corners of Alpine villages and bustling markets of the Middle East, nuts take center stage during winter. Many nuts, such as chestnuts and walnuts, are in season during the fall and winter months. This seasonal availability has historically made them more prominent in winter bakes. Now, we’ve come to associate hazelnuts and pecans with the warmth and coziness of the season.
For many the aroma of roasted nuts or baked goods with nuts is incredibly comforting. And nuts are often linked to classic Christmas treats, think of the snowball cookie: a bite-sized butter cookie with almonds that is rolled in powdered sugar so it looks like a little snowball. Nutty flavors also pair well with other winter ingredients like chocolate, cinnamon, and spices. Those combinations create complex and satisfying flavor profiles that are especially appealing when it's chilly outside.
A nice cup of hot chocolate offers the ultimate sense of comfort and indulgence in winter time. This drink evokes nostalgia and brings back cherished childhood memories of family get-togethers. No wonder hot cocoa has emerged as a winter flavor for cookies, cakes and muffins. While these products don’t deviate too much from classic chocolate flavor products, the marketing potential is much bigger. The Amaretto Hot Cocoa Cookies by Pepperidge Farm are promoted as a holiday exclusive and come in a red packaging with snowflake decorations. They are offered for a limited time only to further add to the appeal.
The aesthetic of hot cocoa treats is often enhanced with classic hot chocolate toppings such as mini marshmallows, hot fudge drizzles or peppermint candy canes. They make hot cocoa baked goods extra indulgent and offer an Instagrammable appearance.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and clementines are in season during the winter months. They are popular foods this time of year, because their high amounts of vitamin C are important to combat colds and the flu. Although for baked goods and patisserie, it's mostly the flavor that counts.
Popular combinations for cakes and treats are clementine and chocolate, orange and cinnamon, or blood orange and vanilla. The most ubiquitous of all might be orange and cranberry, such as in the Spiced Orange & Cranberry Shortbread from the Cartwright & Butler Winter Wonderland line. The balance between sweet and tart works very well, while the vibrant orange and deep red colors of oranges and cranberries create an appealing visual contrast.
Gingerbread might just be the ultimate winter cookie. For many people, this cookie is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of winter treats. The treat – often shaped like a little man – is made with ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. These popular winter spices not only add flavor but also have warming properties.
A trendier application of these winter spices is the chai latte cupcake. There, winter spices are combined with black tea and cream. Being a hot drink, chai has the same comforting qualities as hot cocoa, but with a spice punch. The classic chai blend consists of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, star anise and ginger.
Colder weather draws consumers towards alcoholic beverages such as mulled wine, rum, scotch and bourbon. The spices and warmth make these drinks extra appealing during winter, also as a flavoring for baked goods. Think of the classic fruitcakes with some rum.
But there are more trendy applications possible as well. Union Square Donuts offers a sea salt whiskey caramel donut, where the whiskey adds richness and depth to the otherwise overwhelmingly sweet treat. The Finish brand Karl Fazer offers the jaffa sponge cake in a glogg flavor, the Scandinavian version of mulled wine. The soft sponge base is topped with glogg flavored jam and dark chocolate. Sweetness with a kick!
A sweet chocolate bar with fiery chili or a fruity peach pie with surprising heat from jalapeno. Swicy is literally the hottest flavor trend in patisserie and chocolate right now. Find out all about this trend.