How to Make Your Dessert Menu Shine

The traditional last course of a meal is becoming less and less popular. With more guests taking advantage of the communal effect of shared plates and striving to eat healthier, dessert menus have seen a plunge in performance.

Nothing will ever completely wipe chocolate out of the vernacular of contemporary dining, but in order to move more of the sweet stuff and boost profits, you'll need to put in a bit of effort. Here are some tips and tricks to guide you.

Go Small

Little trifle shots, mini parfaits, and two-bite tiramisus can help you sell dessert menu items. For instance, Seasons 52 offers a "Mini Indulgences" dessert menu. With a $3 price point, guests are likely to order these affordable, bite-sized desserts. Similarly, Michele Brown, executive pastry chef at Dallas's Brook Hollow Golf Club, says you should downsize your desserts to entice diners. "Create small portions with small prices," she advises.

Offer Dessert to Go

When guests take dessert to go instead of eating it at the restaurant, it's just as much of a sale. Another upside to sending departing guests off with their dessert is the availability of the vacated table. To get customers to take advantage of this offer, teach your servers how to sell dessert to diners. For instance, if they see a couple on a date and know that their kids are home, suggest that they bring a treat home for the babysitter. Top your offering off with cute, branded packaging that stands out from your competitors.

Create One Signature Dish

One iconic dessert menu item may be enough to entice your customers. For instance, why not offer an adult milkshake like the outrageously popular Heavenly Shakes at Pennsylvania's Burgatory. Offered in an array of concoctions, these milkshakes are a special offering that stands out and has patrons visiting the restaurant from near and far. Brown even suggests creating your own snow cone "with fruit purees made from fruit scraps in your kitchen." Get creative and come up with a one-of-a-kind offering that keeps your customers coming back for more.

Make the Most of Fruit

Offering dessert options that consist of mostly fruit is a great way to entice diners. In Dallas, Mama's Daughters' Diner is a temple to peach cobbler. With a folksy feel, this fruit-filled dessert is crave-worthy while also appealing to anyone who is trying to stick to healthier foods.

Brown suggests that you show off your numbers, too. "Rather than touting just the 'lite' dessert, add 'under 250 calories' to the menu description," she says. She also recommends using high-quality products, keeping ingredients to a minimum, and going with concentrated flavors. "Keep the butter, cream, and sugar in the background, and allow your fruits, spices, and chocolates to shine." Lastly, she recommends grilling fruits to bring out the sweetness without adding calories.

By coming up with a creative approach, you'll be on your way to rejuvenating dessert sales. Step back, take note of what's currently working, and use these tips to make your dessert menu shine.

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