4 Chocolate Trends to Watch

Chocolate — America’s favorite dessert — is becoming even more popular.

Of all restaurants that offer dessert, nearly 64 percent offer chocolate, an increase from nearly 53 percent in 2005, according to menu research firm Datassential.

Chocolate cake and ice cream are particularly popular, but several chocolate styles, flavor combinations and marketing strategies have recently emerged to sell more chocolate at chain restaurants.

White chocolate

This combination of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids is appearing on more menus, particularly in drinks.

Datassential reports that white chocolate’s prevalence is growing even faster than chocolate as a whole. White chocolate appeared on 38.5 percent more menus in 2013 than in 2005. That puts it on just 9 percent of dessert menus, but it’s still remarkable growth, especially since many of the new items aren’t on dessert menus, but in drinks, cocktails and breakfast items.

In November, IHOP introduced Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Pancakes — buttermilk pancakes made with white chocolate chips and served with raspberry topping, cream cheese icing and whipped topping.

The same month, McDonald’s introduced the McCafé White Chocolate Mocha, made with espresso, white chocolate flavor and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream.

In December, Baskin-Robbins’ Flavor of the Month was Peppermint Bark in the Dark, a new flavor made with peppermint bark, chocolate ice cream, peppermint candy and a white-chocolate-flavored ribbon.

Over the holidays, Bonefish Grill introduced a Winter White Chocolate Martini at its 174 units, available through Feb. 11. The cocktail is made with white chocolate syrup, white crème de cacao and rum-spiked horchata, and priced at $7.

Quaker Steak & Lube is also using white crème de cacao in its Mint Chocolate Tini, which also has vodka, peppermint Schnapps and a crushed candy cane rim.

Earlier in the year, Burger 21, a nine-unit chain founded by Melting Pot Restaurants Inc., introduced a Caramel Macadamia Sundae as a permanent menu item. The sundae includes a macadamia and white chocolate cookie topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, whipped cream and candied pecans.

In March, Gordon Biersch offered a White Chocolate Mousse Lemon Cake — a lemon cake layered with white chocolate mousse, drizzled with lemon glaze, topped with blueberries and served with warm blueberry sauce.

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