Chocolate: Still on trend, and heading in new directions.

It might not seem possible, but chocolate is becoming even more popular. Chocolate is already a favorite dessert—64% of restaurants offer a chocolate dessert, up from 53% in 2005, according to a menu research firm. The latest trends include a variety of chocolate new trends in chocolateflavors.

White chocolate is growing in popularity.  Although it’s not truly a chocolate—it’s actually a blend of cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids and salt—it’s showing up more often as a dessert option.  White chocolate does not contain the cocoa solids or the antioxidant powers of chocolate, but its milder sweetness combines well with other flavors.  White chocolate and cherry cookies, white chocolate mochas, and combinations of white and dark chocolate are all trendy options.

Mint chocolate is another popular combination.  Around the holidays, peppermint and chocolate combinations are popular, such as candy cane peppermint pie on a chocolate crust or peppermint bark.  Or, ask the Girl Scouts: Thin Mints are their best seller, making up 25% of cookie sales in 2012.  Mint and chocolate are also a frequent combination around St. Patrick’s Day.  Traditional, it’s not—but the continuing popularity of McDonald’s Shamrock Shake makes it clear that people love that green color.

Chocolate desserts are often topped or combined with berries—a little tartness to go along with all that sweet.  And perhaps it makes consumers feel a bit healthier, too?

As for candy bars, there are plenty of new things popping up inside chocolate bars, too.  People who enjoy a Nestle Crunch bar may be interested in chocolate bars with brown rice or puffed quinoa, which give that same type of crunch. Then, of course, there’s bacon.  Although the first bacon and chocolate combinations seemed intended to surprise the consumer, this salty and sweet combination has stuck around. Tea flavored ganache and caramels and exotic spices in chocolate are also turning up in more places.  Alternative nut butters—almond, walnut, and cashew—are making new appearances in candy bars as well.

 

 

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