Archive for the 'dessert' Category

Fall: Nature’s Perfect Culinary Muse

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

The leaves are slowly beginning to turn, the dog days of summer are in the rearview and somewhere ahead awaits winter’s wrath. But in the meantime we are on the precipice of what is arguably one of the most beautiful and enjoyable times of the year, at least here in our little corner of the world where we get to delight in the splendor of all four seasons.

The hum of the air conditioner is replaced with the street noise flowing in through the open windows. The weekends are filled with Farmer’s market harvests and football games. Scarecrows and pumpkins make their way onto lawns and porches while in the October air dangles the unmistakable smell of fall – and with it, promises of frosty mornings and cozy nights.

We get to wrap our chilly necks in scarves and hold a cup of hot chocolate for warmth.  We can carve jack-o-lanterns and give candy to adorably costumed neighborhood kids.  There’s less mowing the lawn and more playing in piles of crunchy leaves.  What could possibly make this time of year any better?  Only one thing, well, make that two: fabulous fall food and lavish libations!

For many, this time of year is synonymous with traditional autumn comfort foods and seasonal drinks.  From hearty chili and freshly baked apple pie to warm cider and orchard sangria, the list of this season’s beloved eats and treats is as lengthy as it is titillating. For those of you who love your traditional autumnal dishes, we’ve decided to take a look at some classic fall favorites with a fresh spin – whether it be through flavor or application. For the more daring palates out there, there are some new products to inspire and refresh your fall feasts.

Take a look at these new domestic product launches that caught our eye.  Hopefully you can snag these seasonal steals at a store near you or use them as inspiration for home-made deliciousness.

Barefoot Contessa Pumpkin Cupcake and Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Mix


What: Barefoot Contessa Pumpkin Cupcake & Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Mix


Why: Because bathing suit season is over and cupcakes can be our friends again.




Kashi Autumn Wheat Breakfast Cereal


What: Kashi Autumn Wheat Breakfast Cereal

Where: Supermarkets and superstores [Walmart]

Why: Because there’s no reason breakfast shouldn’t be festive!



Baker’s Pantry Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix


What: The Baker’s Pantry Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix

Where: Select supermarkets and superstores [Cost Plus World Market]

Why: Because a fall weekend morning is perfect for an indulgent at-home brunch.




Toigo Orchards Pear Butter


What: Toigo Orchards Pear Butter

Where: Natural/Health Food Stores [Whole Foods Market]

Why: Because lightly seasoned tree ripened Bartlett pears are what fall is all about!




Trader Joe’s Sugar, Chocolate and Coffee Bean Grinder


What: Trader Joe’s Sugar, Chocolate & Coffee Bean Grinder

Where: Supermarket [Trader Joe’s]

Why: Because there are very few things in life that cannot be improved by adding sugar and chocolate.




Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip Rounds


What: Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip Rounds

Where: Supermarket [Trader Joe’s]

Why: Because even football tailgates can be spiced up with fall flair.




These next picks may be a bit harder to get your hands on, unless you’ll be doing some traveling this season, but there’s no reason these global muses can’t inspire your fall cooking.


AP Gourmet Blueberry Pecan Brie CheeseTopper


What: AP Gourmet Blueberry Pecan Brie Topper

Where: Canada

Why: Because traditional appetizers can get boring. Also consider maple walnut or cranberry almond variations.




Knorr Secrets De Grand-Mère Potiron Pumpkin, Carrot and Rosemary Soup

What: Knorr Secrets De Grand-Mère Potiron Pumpkin, Carrot and Rosemary Soup 

Where: France

Why: Because your crock pot has felt neglected all summer.




Vegetarian Goats' Cheese & Butternut Squash LasagneWhat: Asda Chosen by You Vegetarian Goats’ Cheese & Butternut Squash Lasagne 

Where: UK

Why: Because butternut squash was made for more than just soup.



 Casino Délices Cranberry, Pecan & Pistachio Bars made in France

What: Casino Délices Cranberry, Pecan & Pistachio Bars 

Where: France

Why: Because this will spice up your fall dessert tray while adding a healthier option.




Sampford Courtenay Elderflower Cider made in the UK



What: Sampford Courtenay Sparkling Elderflower Cider 

Where: UK

Why: Because edible flowers are making a huge comeback in food and beverage and because cider is to fall what iced tea is to summer.




Fireball Cinnamon Whisky made in Finland



What: Fireball Cinnamon Whisky 

Where: Finland

Why: Because a cinnamon-infused nightcap will bring sweeter dreams.



Hopefully these picks get your fall flavor wheels turning. We’d love to hear about your favorite autumnal treats or any new products that have caught your eye, so don’t be shy, comment away!

Reflections on the Roadshow

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

2011 Innovations Roadshow room 267

It’s hard to believe that another Innovation Roadshow® has come and gone. With 18 months of planning, our annual event was over quicker than you can even say the word “Roadshow.”

Throughout 26 booths, our global technical staff showcased almost 100 new concepts, flavors and technologies that got our attendees’ creative juices flowing.

All that noshing built up energy for presentations on food & beverage trends, alternative natural sweeteners and new EU flavor legislation. And the day culminated with a keynote presentation from Mary Wagner, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Global Research & Development/Quality for Starbucks Coffee Company. Her presentation educated our attendees on how to remain authentic to your brand, yet appeal to the local market to which you are selling.

But back to the food! When it comes to the products we show at our Innovation Showcase, the tabletop exhibit mentioned above, everyone has their favorites – based on personal preference, uniqueness and applicability – but let me share with you some of mine….

Varietal Mint Ice Creams - developed with David Michael’s Michtex® technology

  • Varietal Mint Ice Creams – Inspired by chewing gum, we explored the use of spearmint (paired with blackberry) and wintergreen (paired with vanilla) in ice cream, as well as a new texture. Utilizing David Michael’s Michtex® technology, we were able to replicate the “stretchy” texture of Turkish-style ice cream, also known as dondurma.

 Fortified Fruity Chicken Nuggets Varieties - Cherry Pir and Apple a la Mode

  • Fortified Fruity Chicken Nuggets – For the picky eater in need of a nutritional boost, these nuggets boast vitamins and minerals, or deliver a serving of fruit. Choose from Cherry Lime or Apple Pie a la Mode (coated with real pie crust and vanilla ice cream flavored icing!).

Aloe Beverages - Borojo Rooibos Tea, Old Fashioned Lemonade, and Spiced Peach

  • Aloe Beverages – Each year at the Fancy Foods Show, the number of vendors showing aloe beverages grows and grows. With their sweet taste and flavorful adaptability, why haven’t these taken off? One theory is the large pulp. Our beverage group addressed this with three flavors with varying degrees of pulp. And the flavors! The beverages were shown in Borojo Rooibos Tea, Old Fashioned Lemonade, and Spiced Peach (with cinnamon, vanilla and mastic).

Mood Truffles - Aphrodisiac Foods

  • Mood Truffles – As in get-in-the-mood truffles. We’ve spotted some trends lately pointing toward aphrodisiac foods gaining favor with baby boomers. Anti-aging foods that enhance energy and vitality, are going a step further. The flavors also test our level of comfort, another emerging trend, with oyster and uni (sea urchin roe).

Maghreb Fruit & Almond Smoothie

  • Maghreb Fruit & Almond Smoothie – Not only does this fruit and almond milk smoothie highlight dairy alternatives, and North African flavors (honey fig, and honey fig with orange blossom and cumin), but it’s also a multi-purpose beverage. The smoothies can also be used as sauces for meats.

But these are just a few of the amazing items showcased this year. Learn more about the Innovation Roadshow. To taste samples from this year’s show, or get copies of the presentations, please contact your account manager.

A Trip to the Times Square Pop Tarts World Café

Friday, September 10th, 2010

This past weekend, I took my niece to New York for her 13th birthday. It was a day of firsts for her – first time in New York, first Broadway show, first cab ride, and first Pop-Tarts Café. OK, well that last one was a first for me too.

Being the food nerd that I am, I made sure that a stop at the new Pop Tarts World in Times Square was included on our itinerary. I’ve been reading about the shop for a few weeks now, and couldn’t wait to check it out for myself.

Pop Tarts World - Times Square - New York, NY

Inside, is a Pop-Tarts lover’s dream – tote bags and coffee mugs emblazoned with the brand logo, both new and retro. A “Varietizer” at the center of the store allowing customers to create their own variety packs – this area proved to have the longest lines.

But the area I was most focused on for this trip was the café. Having read countless “ewwws” and “ahhhs” for Pop-Tarts Sushi (minced Pop Tarts wrapped in a Fruit Roll-Up) and Fluffer Butters (marshmallow spread between two fudge tarts), I couldn’t wait to try for myself.

Pop Tarts Sushi

I chose the S’mores Stick – dark chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick, dotted with small cubes of s’mores flavored Pop-Tarts. Indulgent, delicious and decidedly adult. My niece was enamored by the Pop-Tarts Sushi, but in that crucial moment of ordering, caved in to her fears of weirdness, and ordered a toasted frosted strawberry Pop Tart – that she ate cold on the train ride home.

Pop Tarts S'mores Stick and Frosted Strawberry Pop Tart

To me, the store appeared to be more for grown-ups than the kiddies. It was us, the adults, acting like kids in a candy store, while the kids were mildly impressed. It was the adults ordering the Pop-Tarts sundaes, sushi and sandwiches, while the kids stuck with the traditional tarts, and clung to the Varietizer.

What I also noticed, was that the café really focused on extending the Pop-Tarts brand, beyond the toaster. All summer, we’ve spotted the ad campaign in which a mom helps her kids set up a Pop-Tart stand where they sell various frozen treats, including Pop-Tarts ice cream sandwiches (an awesome idea, by the way). The café brings those ideas to life along with so many more – supported by a generous recipe section on the Pop-Tarts website. Like Rice Krispies before it, the Pop-Tarts brand is leaping into snacks and desserts – and the results are pretty awesome.

And lest you think that only sugar-laden treats can come of this, take a moment to enjoy Pop-Tarts Ants on a Log – celery sticks filled with peanut butter and dotted with squares of wild grape flavored Pop-Tarts!

The 2010 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 3

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

So much food, so little time…

I was pleasantly surprised at the 479° Popcorn booth. How exciting can flavored popcorn be? That’s what you’re thinking, right? Me too. But their flavors –Vietnamese Cinnamon Sugar, Madras Curry Coconut & Cashews, and Black Truffle & White Cheddar – were both creative and delicious.

And speaking of creative, I just loved the breakfast pitas, with real fruit pieces, from Ozery Bakery. Available in apple cinnamon, cranberry orange, and breakfast muesli, they make a fabulous substitute for your usual morning bagel, toast, etc. (I’m thinking the cranberry orange wouldn’t be too shabby with a lunchtime turkey sandwich either!)

Granola Flats weren’t much more than an ultra-thin flattened granola bar (Nature Valley type), but they were darn tasty! Plus, they’re sold as a “chip” rather than a bar which means I have something to snack on now when hubby dives into the Fritos during a baseball game.

When it comes to food, I’ll try anything once. (Whether I’ll try it again is a different story.) But there is the occasional product that my brain just won’t allow past my lips. That’s been true in the past of vinegar drinks brought to me by my wonderful co-workers at David Michael Beijing. I love vinegar – so much, that I load it up on my salads to the point of mouth numbing. But the idea of drinking it, like juice – I just couldn’t get past that. So, when I spotted Hong Cho’s pomegranate vinegar drink, I decided to go for it. And you know what? It’s pretty good! The vinegar is noticeable, but not overwhelming. Since there are a number of health-benefits linked to vinegar drinks, I’m officially adding this to my radar. With the right marketing (a downplay of the word “vinegar” I’m thinking) this could be a future trend to watch.

Other fun finds at this year’s show? I was excited to spot macqui berry at Honest Tea’s booth in the new Macqui Berry Mate – keep your eyes peeled for more of this superfruit. There was lots of prickly pear and blood orange flavored goodies, mostly drinks. I found Parisian macarons at a number of booths, including the frozen macarons at Galaxy Desserts – perfect for foodservice. The Naan Pizza at Tandoor Chef was awesome – it’s about darn time we had something like this on the market. And, Chobani Greek Yogurt now offers Chobani Champions, said to be the only Greek yogurt made for kids.

And my favorite product of the show? Nothing too crazy here – my personal favorite were the falafels at Falafel Republic. Lightly fried balls of ground chick peas, falafels are typically served in a pita from your favorite street vendor. This version needs only seconds in the microwave to heat up, and the falafels are satisfyingly savory and filling. Served with tzatziki sauce, I could eat them every day, with or without the pita.

The 2010 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 2

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Probably the most innovative product I spotted at this year’s Fancy Foods Show was the Brazilian import, Bacon Krisps. Distributed by Acme Import Co., Bacon Krisps are very interesting little snacks. A minute in the microwave, and voila, these little wheat nuggets puff up into perfect little red, white and tan striped bacon-flavored snacks (you know, the kind of striped coloring you wish your at-home bacon actually looked like). And bonus: they’re vegetarian! And on a side note, this was just one of many air-popped snacks for kids and adults on display.

Danielle’s Crispy Veggie Chips sells a line of exotic dehydrated fruits and veggies, including jackfruit, roasted coconut, spicy carrot and okra. What I most surprised by was how popular the durian was at the show. If you’re not familiar with this tropical fruit, the durian is a highly prized fruit of Southeast Asia – even though it is actually banned in most public places due to its pungent odor. But, durian lovers (and there are many), are more than willing to withstand the smell to get to the custard-like filling of this spiny, football-shaped pod. Apparently, Fancy Food Show goers couldn’t wait to taste it either – by the time I made it to the booth, it was all gone…

And speaking of Fancy Food hits, I was lucky enough to sample from the last pint of Vosges’ Bacon Toffee Ice Cream. I’m a HUGE fan of their bacon chocolate bars, so I was pretty excited to sample this new, not-yet-available-in-stores treat. The verdict? Smoky, caramel, and a little meaty. Not sure I could eat a whole bowl, but I imagine a scoop melting atop the right dessert would be pure heaven.

And speaking of chocolate – my main source of sustenance at the show – an unexpected favorite was the Toasted Corn chocolate bar from Philly’s own Eclat Chocolate. And I don’t even like corn-flavored things! But this was excellent – crunchy, toasty and tasty.

Next up – granola chips, maqui berry, drinkable vinegar, and my personal show favorite!

The 2010 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 1

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Ah, the Fancy Foods Show – 331,000 square feet of chocolate, cheese and sauce. A playground of flavor for food industry peeps and bloggers alike. A global adventure that takes you around the world in eight hours. In short – practice your competitive eating skills beforehand, wear your comfiest of comfy shoes, and be ready to take a lot o’ notes.

Lollibons® – ice cream filled truffles on a stick – caught my eye first. I was reminded that everything tastes better on a stick, as was the thinking behind our own Pie Pops (pies on a stick) showcased at the 2009 Innovation Roadshow®.

Of all the trends lining the aisles of the Javits Center, “real” ginger – whether it was ginger soda/ale or ginger beer – seemed to be the strongest. With too many to count, one that really made an impression was Belvoir Fruit Farms’ Organic Ginger Beer. Strong does not begin to describe the kick of this carbonated soda – but it had me wanting more. Their elderflower juice was pretty darn tasty too – and both ginger and elderflower are hot on cocktail menus right now.

Our flavor chemists recently developed a line of honey flavors from Australia and New Zealand, so I was pretty excited to spot the Manuka honey line from Honey New Zealand. The twist? The number of active enzymes in each jar are called out on the package – from 5+ to 25+. According to the manufacturer, enzymes in honey have natural healing properties and do not dissipate when heated. Each batch is independently tested for its activity level, and marked as such.

Last year, the Peruvian pavilion was the place to be. Even though Peruvian cuisine is still on the rise, Korean cuisine is beginning to steal the spotlight as the next big thing. At the Korean pavilion, The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) joined forces with the Korean Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation for a demonstration of fusion foods, like Bibimbap Mini Tacos and Kimchi Pancakes.

Next up – Bacon, bacon, and durian?

Here We Come A-Waffleing

Monday, June 14th, 2010

This weekend, while browsing through a department store home sale with a friend, we came upon a rack of on-sale specialty electrics – or what we quickly dubbed, “dust-collectors.”

You know what I’m talking about – the circus animal waffle iron, the mini donut maker, the cupcake maker! (Seriously…why wouldn’t you just use mini-cupcake tins??)

It got me thinking about some of the lesser used items in my own kitchen – the crème brulee torch, the deep fryer, and the Belgian waffle iron. I spent the evening trying to imagine ways to make use of these things beyond the obvious – ok, well, a few minutes at least – and I wasn’t coming up with much.

Then, I spotted a post from last week’s Tasting Table on the very subject (seriously, if you are not signed up for this newsletter, you should be!). My waffle iron being the most perplexing of the bunch, I was thrilled to find their recommendation for, a blog dedicated to finding 30 new uses for a waffle iron, other than waffles.

Are there 30 uses, you ask? Try it as a panini press or a pizza oven, bake up cookies, muffins and pretzels, or even “fry” up some yummy hash browns. Waffleizer ventures into the sweet and savory – some closer than others to the waffle comfort zone.

Yet another reminder of how a little creativity in the kitchen, or the product development lab, can garner a whole new world of food and flavors!

How I Love to Try Something New!

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Just this past Friday, I read a great article in Nation’s Restaurant News on innovative flavors in foodservice soft-serve. Among the flavors mentioned, olive oil intrigued me most, especially since it had proven as the best selling for one restauranteur.

So, on Saturday night, when our waiter mentioned olive oil as one of the home-made gelatos available at Philadelphia’s Pizzeria Stella, I was sold.

While the other ladies in our group opted for chocolate or hazelnut (which were amazing themselves), myself and one other brave friend ordered the olive oil. We each received one perfect scoop swimming in a small sea of yellow-green oil. The taste was creamy, sweet, fatty and fruity, and reminded me of (solid) spreadable olive oil I have sampled in the past.

olive oil gelato

What struck me most, though, was that it seemed the perfect base for more…. like an alternative to vanilla, but a bit less complex.

Almost the entire table sampled our olive oil gelato, and I saw some mixed faces and reactions. From the “well, it tastes just like olive oil,” to “no, I don’t like that at all,” and the “wow, that’s not as bad as I thought.” (I’m pretty sure that last one was a compliment.)

Despite the reaction from our friends, although most of them liked it or were ambivalent, myself and my adventurous ordering buddy were pleased.

What Ever Happened to Moderation?

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Recently, a study was released by Princeton University showing that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) causes more weight gain than table sugar. There has been A LOT of backlash from the food industry questioning their methods. Frankly, I am not here to take a side – I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV.

But, in all the aftermath, there was at least one voice I agreed with. Elizabeth Abbott, author of Sugar: A Bittersweet History” stated, “The debate about which one is better for you is a false debate, because neither of them is good for you.” And followed with, “By having cane sugar, you’re not doing yourself a great big favor. Not so much sugar is what we should be striving for.”

Huzzah! It was as if someone finally addressed the elephant in the room. I’m not saying let’s outlaw sugar. Pu-leeze…the chocolate drawer in my desk gives evidence of the contrary. But, instead of all the debate over which sweetener is better or worse for you, let’s address the fact that too much of a good thing – any good thing – is just too much, whether is be sugar, salt, lettuce, or even water.

We are all free to indulge once in a while. Even Jamie Oliver, host of ABC’s Food Revolution, promotes moderation, with a bit of indulgence thrown in. In other words, bake your cake and eat it too – but stick with one slice. And maybe start with some grilled chicken and veggies first.

Sure, it’s easy to get carried away when there are so many choices available. But we’ve got an entire lifetime to sample all those choices – we need not do it at once. And besides – the healthier you are, the longer you live, the more sugary treats you eventually get to try!

2009 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 2

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Next up on the fancy brigade is a stop in Peru. Last month, we took you on a little journey through Peru, with flavor chemist Yuko Nodo. But at the Fancy Foods Show, the flavors of Peru came to me.

So often, I avoid the international pavilions. The mind (and feet) can only take in so much in a day, and typically the pavilions are filled with a lot of commodity products. And let’s face it, there are only so many nuts and so much olive oil a girl can take.

But Peru did it right. At a large endcap of the pavilion I was drawn in by the call of Pisco Sours…delish! After one turn around this overly crowded display, I found out that the trade organization PromPeru had joined forces with a local Peruvian restaurant, Oh! Calamares (Kearny, NJ), to present an amazing spread of goodies. I snacked on potato pastries and chocolate flan! The lucuma fruit was heavily promoted through samples and signage, as were Peruvian potatoes and purple corn. Elderberry, amaranth and quinoa were also displayed in the pavilion. With all of the foodie interest in Peruvian cuisine recently, it was no surprise to see this was the absolute busiest booth at the show.

And, speaking of crowded booths, Ciao Bella Gelato had its fair share of traffic, too! I sampled the Key Lime Graham Cracker Gelato – a 2009 Sofi Award Winner in the Perishable Foodservice Product category. There’s no question why this product won! So often, key lime flavored products don’t translate as well into non-pie applications. If not done right, they can taste, well, artificial. But this was right on – authentic and refreshing, like a frozen slice of fresh pie.

Last fall, I read about Skyr - a strained Icelandic yogurt that’s been slowly making a name for itself. Plus, it’s non-fat and sugar-free. So when I happened upon the Siggi’s booth at the show, I was excited to taste! I tried the plain first, to experience the true flavor of skyr. It tastes quite a bit like traditional yogurt, only much thicker and creamier. It’s very filling, and sour. They had a number of flavors on hand to sample, and I went immediately for the grapefruit. The flavored varieties are sweetened with agave nectar. The grapefruit seemed a bit thinner than the plain, and was more tart, or course, but quite good. I wish I hadn’t been so full at the time, or else I would have tried more of their flavors – they all sounded delicious!

In an issue of Fast Track Fast Trends last year, we explored Coneinn Pizza, which is basically, a pizza in a cone! The product heats in the microwave, in an upright package. Sounds great, doesn’t it! Problem is – it’s a European product. That’s why I was so excited to see the Coneinn booth at the show! I was pretty sad that they didn’t have any samples to try (I’ve been drooling over it for a year, after all!), but I did find out that they’re looking for stateside distributors. They will be mine…oh yes, they will be mine.

One more installment to go! Next time we’ll talk alcohol-free wine and flavored dulce de leche!

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