Heat meets sweet: explore the swicy flavor trend in patisserie and chocolate

6 Sep 2023

Hype & Trend Signal
Trend Updates

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. Although the flavor combinations might be surprising, the trend itself isn’t as 65% of consumers worldwide now want to try combinations of tastes which are unusual at first. Swicy perfectly hits that spot. 

Especially in South-America (75%), the Middle-East and Africa (72%) and the Asia-Pacific region (71%), consumers are eager to try out unexpected flavor combinations. Discover the new ‘swicy’ flavor category.

According to a Kalsec Market Research from 2021, 3 out of 4 consumers agree that most foods taste better with some level of heat. A 15% increase from 2019. But it's not just savory foods that are becoming extra spicy, in patisserie and chocolate we now see the emergence of the ‘swicy’ flavor.

What is swicy?

As you may have guessed, swicy is an amalgamation of the words ‘sweet’ and ‘spicy’. It refers to the use of spicy or heat-inducing ingredients in traditionally sweet creations, such as cakes, sauces, drinks, pastry and chocolate. The trend was propelled by the ‘hot honey’ hype – a condiment that is used for everything from fried chicken to desserts – but chocolate bars with chili were an early application of swicy as well. Swicy creations have a carefully calibrated spice level. The heat should enhance the overall flavor profile without overpowering the sweetness.

Some examples of commercial applications of swicy are:

Where does the trend come from?

The exact origin of swicy is difficult to pinpoint, but the popularity of this trend can be explained more easily. Besides people enjoying foods that rate ever higher on the Scoville scale, consumers are after two things:

  • unique flavor combinations - the unexpected and captivating interplay of sweet and spicy pleases the 60% of consumers that are looking for new experiences

  • the exploration of new sensory experiences - spiciness isn’t a taste, but a sensorial experience. Chili offers a slight burn, while Szechuan pepper creates a tingling sensation and temporary numbing effect. This gives a swicy pastry an extra layered eating experience.

How to make use of the ‘swicy’ trend?

Because the rich and complex flavors of cocoa harmonize well with spicy ingredients, the application of swicy is most prominent in the chocolate category. Black or pink pepper offers a surprising burst of heat in a chocolate bar, just as chili contributes a warming quality to pralines and truffles. 

While swicy is popular among consumers and offers plenty of exciting opportunities in patisserie, there aren’t too many commercial examples just yet. But there are tons of cool recipes available online from home cooks and food bloggers. Proving not just the immense potential in swicy pastry, but also the market potential for commercial offerings. There is a growing demand for novel taste experiences, driving adventurous foodies towards swicy snacks and desserts. For artisan patissiers and chocolatiers, swicy opens the door to create new boundary pushing flavor pairings. 

Get inspired by these swicy chocolates and pastries by food bloggers:   

Strawberry Tarts with Black Pepper by Dani’s

 Cooking Mini tarts filled with velvety pastry cream and topped with strawberries, macerated with Bourbon vanilla and black pepper.

Peach-Jalapeño Upside-Down Cake by Rick Bayless

Youtuber Rick Bayless gives his peach upside-down cake a little spice with some green chile and fresh herbs, which complement the olive oil based cake. 

Ancho Chile–Spiced Pecan Pie by The Pioneer Woman

Both the filling and the pecans in this otherwise very traditional pecan pie are flavored with ancho chile powder and cayenne pepper for a surprising twist.

Lemon Tart With Black Pepper & Basil by Jun at Food52

“I brushed it off as an odd idea”, says the recipe creator, “the addition of black pepper might throw a spanner in the works”. But it worked perfectly well. “Far from being an intrusive element in the dish, the pepper brings a surprisingly refreshing punch of peppery fragrance to the dish”, Jun says. 

Wasabi Chocolate Crinkle Cookies by 365 Days of Baking and More

The rich cocoa in these crinkle cookies get a spicy kick from wasabi peas. Those peas also bring some extra crunch and salt to the table.

Hot Honey Fruit Pastries by Myriad Recipes

This puff pastry snack brings together the sweetness from mango, raspberry and honey, and the spice from the chili flakes, creating a yummy treat.

Want to give swicy a go yourself?

Belcolade has some cool sweet and spicy recipes for chocolatiers: the Solaris 5 Spice praline and the red and spicy praline with spicy fresh ginger and wasabi crisp.

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