From reinvented classics to brand new discoveries, we’ve ranked the top five trends taking the industry by storm. By Brittney Levinson.
1. DEEP-FRIED ICE CREAM
A classic at Chinese restaurants, deep-fried ice cream is making a modern comeback. Spearheading the movement in Sydney is food truck Duo Duo run by childhood friends Chris and Dylan Duong. “We grew up eating it in Chinese restaurants and wherever else we could find it,” says Chris. “But we felt the dessert needed a bit of a facelift and the ingredients could be improved, so we decided to make it ourselves and put a new twist on it.”
Everything at Duo Duo is made in-house, including the ice cream. “We also make sure everything is sourced locally and all the ingredients are premium quality,” says Chris. “For example, we use Jersey milk to ensure the ice cream is the texture we want it to be.” The ice cream is shaped into a ball using a circular mould, which Chris says is a crucial step in the process.
“We take a lot of care to make the balls as circular as possible so they look aesthetically pleasing before we cover them in panko crumbs and drop them into the fryer,” he says. “We only fry them for about a minute — any longer than that and you’ll have a milkshake.”
The flavours at Duo Duo change regularly and have included Coco Pops with chocolate whipped cream and Coco Pops sprinkles, pandan and coconut with coconut sauce and classic vanilla with salted caramel sauce and butterscotch popcorn. While it may seem like a simple dessert, there is a lot of labour involved, which means the business relies on a steady flow of customers in order to make the dessert profitable. “There’s quite a lot of work,” admits Chris.
After a successful six months operating the food truck at various locations, Duo Duo is in the process of opening a wholesale division. “We realised we can’t be everywhere and some restaurants would appreciate having a good-quality fried ice cream on the menu while skipping the hard labour,” says Dylan.
Duo Duo are now supplying to Mama Mulan, a 180-seat Chinese restaurant that recently opened in Chatswood. “One of the owners tried our ice cream and really liked it,” says Dylan. “We only have one truck that moves around, so it’s good to get our name out there in another way.”
2. SOFT SERVE
You can pick one up at McDonald’s for 50 cents, but customers are still willing to fork out $10 for a restaurant-made soft serve. Sydney venue Hartsyard was well-known for their extravagant soft-serve ice creams that changed weekly before the venue switched to a lighter menu.
American-born chef and owner Gregory Llewellyn added soft-serve options — varying from key lime pie and cookie dough with M&Ms and fudge sauce — to the menu to give Sydneysiders a taste of his home country.
“When I thought about it, no one was doing this kind of thing here,” he says. “What I like about it is they’re simply loads of fun and you can get super creative with them.”
In the wake of soft serves leaving Hartyard’s core menu, the dessert was given a new lease of life at Llewellyn’s new venue in Enmore, Wish Bone, where the soft serve is a more restrained version of the original dish.
“The whole concept at Wish Bone is pared back,” says Llewellyn. “Everything needs to be consistent; the Hartsyard soft serves would be too fussy for this venue.”
While the concept is more refined, the flavours are still creative. “We’ve just changed from a bourbon soft serve with smoked maple to a banana bourbon flavour with chocolate sauce
and ginger crumble,” says Llewellyn. Priced at $8 a serve, the dessert is a profitable menu item for the restaurant.
3. RUBY CHOCOLATE
For the first time in 80 years, a new type of chocolate was revealed last September by Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut. Dubbed Ruby chocolate, the new addition is made from
the Ruby cocoa bean, which is sourced from different regions around the world. It features a unique reddy-pink colour and is described as having an intense yet smooth, fruity flavour.
According to Barry Callebaut, as the fourth type of chocolate, Ruby stands in sharp contrast to the staples. “It is described as having a unique intense fruitiness and fresh, sour taste and colour
experience without adding any colourants or fruit flavourings,” says a Callebaut spokesperson.
“The striking ruby colour means professional chefs are able to create unique pairings of flavours and explore new ideas for confectionery, pastries and desserts.”
While Australian chefs are yet to get their hands on the chocolate, the spokesperson confirms Ruby chocolate will be available to chefs shortly. “Callebaut plans to introduce the RB1 chocolate to professional chefs in Australia before September 2018.”
4. SHAVED ICE
From Japan’s kakigori to the Filipino-style halo-halo, shaved ice comes in many different forms. While some incarnations of the dessert date back centuries — kakigori is believed to
have been around as early as the 11th century — shaved ice is now becoming more present in the culinary arena. One of the most commonly found versions is Korea’s bingsoo (or bingsu), which is a best-seller at Passion Tree dessert café in Chatswood, Sydney.
After a few years of selling traditional bingsoo, which is simply shaved plain ice with toppings, Passion Tree recently updated its recipe. “About four years ago in Korea, they launched a new version called snow bingsoo, which is a shaved milk-based ice,” says co-founder Chris Sheldrick. “So this year we invested in and changed our menu to sell snow bingsoo.”
Flavoured syrups are added to the mixture before it’s shaved and topped with various sweet ingredients. Passion Tree’s flavours include matcha, taro, cookies and cream, mango cheesecake and traditional red bean, also known as patbingsoo. Each are made using a lactose-free milk base to cater to a variety of customers.
LAB Bakery Café in Strathfield is another popular haunt for bingsoo, which is made using a recipe of water, condensed milk and other ingredients to create the snowlike texture. Flavours include Oreo, mango, tiramisu and traditional red bean.
“There has recently been a huge growth in demand for bingsoo in Sydney, especially in the non-Korean demographics,” says director Kevin Oh. “In our opinion, this is largely driven by the K-pop boom and the acceptance of Korean food and desserts from diverse cultures.”
To make bingsoo, both cafés use custom machines from Korea that freeze the milk mixture instantly for quick service. “Making a bingsoo is relatively simple with the right know-how and tools in place,” says Oh. “First the liquid mix is created according to our LAB recipe, which is then fed into a machine that instantly freezes it before it shoots out fluffy, snow-like shaved ice.”
Selling for up to $18 per serve, both cafés agree bingsoo is a profitable dessert. “It is a very popular product and profitable, but it is also quite cyclical as it is a cold dessert and tends to sell more over summer,” says Oh.
5. COOKIE DOUGH
Straight from the United States, cookie dough is making its way across Australia and fast gaining popularity. Brothers and chefs Jasper Schreiber and Felix Tickner witnessed the booming cookie dough craze overseas and brought their version to Australia, opening DoughLord in Brisbane late last year.
While the cookie dough in the US was too sweet for their liking, the pair experimented until they found the right recipe.
“When we first opened, we had eight flavours and we were testing the waters,” says Schreiber. “We’re doing six doughs right now: vegan tiramisu; vegan Oreo; plain vanilla dough; quad choc; salty sweet, where we use a salted caramel fudge and a standard choc-chip.”
The store also have soft-serve ice cream on offer, which customers often use as a gateway before trying a whole tub of cookie dough. “The soft serve is the bridge — people are familiar with soft serve and it’s not too weird for them to have soft serve with cookie dough,” says Schreiber.
However, commercially sold cookie dough has created controversy in the past due to the risks involved with raw ingredients. Schreiber says customers can be hesitant to try the dough if they think it contains raw flour or eggs.
“You have to heat treat the flour, so we cook the flour in the oven for about 20 minutes and keep cycling it through so it doesn’t burn and we don’t use any eggs,” he
says. “Essentially, the product is cooked but has the texture of raw dough.”
Sugar and dairy products are added to the flour mix to complete the recipe. “At the end of the day, cookie dough is quite a basic thing, which is why you have to go further with premium ingredients,” says Schreiber.
Made in-store daily, the cookie dough is served at two degrees Celsius, and while it can’t be served any higher than four degrees Celsius for food safety reasons, Schreiber recommends customers take it home and heat it in the microwave. “If it was served at ice cream temperature, you’d lose the flavour,” he says. “The warmer the dough is, the better the flavour.”