8 Sep 2023
When days get shorter, consumers gravitate towards comforting meals and warming beverages. The falling leaves kick off a season full of heartening, cozy foods made with seasonal products and loads of spices. For what feels like an eternity – but is actually since 2003 – pumpkin spice is the go to flavoring for fall treats, cakes and cookies. But what other flavors are out there? Discover them below.
Each September, the pumpkin spice offerings show up again at grocery stores, cafes and coffee shops. The warming spice mix with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves can be found in lattes, pancakes, autumn beers, and so much more. Google data shows that online searches on pumpkin spice peak each year at the end of August. The hype lasts until Thanksgiving, which causes a final surge of interest in the flavor.
Coffee chain Starbucks is a big contributor to the popularity of pumpkin spice, serving drinks and snacks with the spice blend. But major candy brands like KitKat and Oreo have incorporated the beloved spice mix into their products as well, showing the popularity of the taste.
The latest hype is the pumpkin spice cheesecake, which isn’t just trending as a product itself, but also as a flavor for other baked goods. Donut chain Krispy Kreme launched a Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Swirl Doughnut this year, a donut with creamy pumpkin-flavored buttercream swirled and cream cheese icing, topped off with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.
This preference for flavors we are already well acquainted with is an ever-increasing trend. According to our Taste Tomorrow AI-powered online data analysis, Classics Continued is one of the most discussed food trends online. Consumers look for food products that bring feelings of warmth and comfort. Three out of four consumers like trying out new foods with a familiar aspect our latest worldwide survey pointed out, such as pumpkin spice cheesecake donut. Trying out different textures and new formats are appreciated by respectively 72% and 69% of consumers. So when innovating with new fall creations, it might be easier to experiment with those variables and stick to the known and comforting flavors everyone loves.
Maple pecan is a popular fall flavor for baked goods and snacks for several reasons, largely due to a combination of taste, nostalgia, and the seasonal nature of the ingredients. Although maple syrup is traditionally harvested in the spring, both maple syrup and pecans are often associated with fall. The combination of maple and pecan creates a rich and comforting flavor profile. The sweetness of maple syrup pairs well with the nutty, earthy taste of pecans, resulting in a satisfying and balanced flavor that many people enjoy, especially during the cooler autumn months.
Maple pecan pastries and cakes can evoke a sense of warmth and comfort, reminding people of gatherings, holidays, and family traditions. This emotional connection to the flavors contributes to their popularity. The ingredients can furthermore be incorporated into a wide range of baked goods and snacks, including pies, cookies, muffins, granola, and more. Trader Joe’s for instance offers glazed maple walnut scones.
‘Chai’ simply means ‘tea’ in Hindi. But in this example, chai refers to a spice mixture, which is used for a warming beverage. Chai has a long and illustrious history and recipes vary across continents, cultures, towns and families. However, the spice mix is usually made with strong spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and black peppercorns.
Traditionally, the spice mixture is brewed with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey. But nowadays, chai spice mixes find their way into bread, cakes, chocolate bars and cupcakes. Perfect for consumers who are craving warming snacks on a cold fall day. Because of the spices, those bakes get the same comforting qualities as a cup of the coffeehouse’s favorite chai latte. So you’re also tapping into the barista flavor trend with a chai spice cake.
Apple cider has surged in popularity as a quintessential flavor for baked goods during the fall season. With its warm and comforting essence, it perfectly embodies the cozy atmosphere associated with autumn. The sweet and slightly tangy notes of apple cider bring richness to treats such as donuts, muffins and monkey bread.
Apple cider combines the sweet and fruity apple taste with warm and aromatic fall spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. There are plenty of options to work apple cider into baked goods: it can be enjoyed as a sweet glaze, as a replacement for wet ingredients in the dough, a reduction can be used as a drizzle on top or it can be brushed onto cakes as they come out of the oven.
Sweet potatoes definitely deserve a mention in a fall flavors article, especially since we’ve seen a spike in vegetable-based patisserie over the last few years. The vegetables have a creamy texture and a sweet but hearty flavor that makes them ideal for savory dishes, but they’re also very suitable for replacing ingredients in sweet recipes.
The tubers, which are rich in fiber and vitamins, add texture, moisture and can often be used to help reduce the overall fat content. In fact, sweet potato is a great substitute for any butter or excessive oil. Recipes have been made for sweet potato bread, chocolate mousse and cupcakes, but the options are limitless when it comes to substituting ingredients for sweet potato. For an extra bit of visual drama, opt for purple sweet potatoes which give your bakes a bright pop of color.
Just like apple cider, spiced pear offers a fruity yet aromatic flavoring that evokes the typical warming fall feeling. For these creations, pears are usually poached in wine or cider with a mixture of spices and sugar. For visually stunning centerpiece cake, they can be used whole in a cake, so that the tops and stems pop out of the cake. Each slice then has a beautiful poached pear cross-section in it. But the pear can also be worked into pies, tarts, coffee cakes or laminated pastries, which is easier for large-scale production. Think of the spiced pear pie of The Pie Hole.
Spiced pear baked goods are often combined with bourbon and butterscotch. The warm, earthy bourbon or sweet, caramel tones of butterscotch make a spiced pear treat even more indulgent. They bring extra depth and richness to baked goods, which further add to the autumnal vibe.
Take a look at these insights in the veg-based patisserie trend!