“People confuse me. Food doesn’t,” the late Anthony Bourdain writes in his bestselling and critically acclaimed book, Kitchen Confidential. From the pastries of New York’s Upper East side where the world’s most popular chef spent much of his “haute cuisine” years, to Japan’s mochi, and to France’s famous Crème brûlée, people around the world had never run out of choices to satisfy the nagging sugar rush. And of course, out here, it doesn’t get any more American than a slice (or two) of apple pie.
If you ask strangers or your friends about their favorite dessert, odds are safe that their answers would be different from yours. Childhood gave you grandma and grandpa’s homemade treats. High school was filled with memories of coffee, cakes and afternoons in the local ice cream parlor with your favorite crowd. This means our love of food, especially desserts, is deeply personal. If you have a dessert restaurant and are preparing to design a menu, that’s what you should never forget along with these elements:
1. Menu Basics: Any ideal restaurant menu should provide a good balance of traditional dishes and fresh, trendy choices while also balancing the prices to increase and maintain profits. Before you start to write down anything on your menu, choose your items well because your menu design should be representative of your dessert or pastry shop’s overall concept.
2. Typography: Putting typography to good use is all about communicating a cafe’s brand in a readable menu. Typeface selection would vary based on a few factors such as the number of words needed to properly fit on the layout. If you decide to use more than one typeface to distinguish one dessert from another, it would guide customers through the whole menu, which is what they need.
3. Pricing: Once you have determined what type of desserts to offer, calculate the actual food cost and evaluate how large your portions will be. Another way to look at your profit margins is to balance your dessert selection by having expensive and cheaper items as well as limiting items that are priced based on market figures since they have the biggest fluctuation when it comes to prices.
4. Images: There are two principles when it comes to photos—the unrelenting use of bold images and avoiding images altogether. It can work either way as long as you invest in high-quality photography. Anything less should never be an option if you want your dessert menu to be taken seriously. In most cases, hiring a professional photographer is your best chance at nailing your images so that your items have proper lighting, to make them look tasty and appealing. After all, it would be difficult to sell food in blurry images.
For all the nostalgia over pastries and sweets, some sugary treats are a cut above the local flavors. You only have to take the next flight to another country to find delicate Italian tiramisú slices right at the bottom section of cafe menus or get a good sniff out of creamy Korean yogurt in the world’s biggest cities. Offering topnotch foreign flavors can make your restaurant grow, especially if you give diners a great experience which begins in a well-designed dessert menu, using the following steps:
1. Use appropriate titles: There are cases when a menu would simply call for clarity of item descriptions and titles. This is especially true for desserts since a cafe may have regular local customers who would appreciate an element of surprise and creativity with the usual selection once in a while. Having a clear layout with readable titles on your menu is crucial to keeping your customers coming back for more.
2. Consider the size of your restaurant: The size of your kitchen and your restaurant as a whole will be a major deciding factor for how large or small your menu should be. The bigger your cafe is, the more items your menu would ultimately need. Offering a large and very exquisite dessert selection out of a modest kitchen isn’t entirely impossible but it’s going to be very costly and difficult.
3. Choose your items well: Designing any type of restaurant menu has its fair share of creative challenges because you constantly have to think about the best desserts or dessert flavors to offer and which ones you can do without. The ideal cafe always aims to provide a unique combination of new and old-time favorites for its new and regular customers. A great dessert menu also offers just the right type of sweets to keep a stable profit, along with meal vouchers from time to time as an added marketing ploy.
4. Use color and imagery: The use of color would help your customers understand and feel a personal connection to your cafe’s theme. For instance, a high-end restaurant serving the most expensive pastries in town may have a dress code for their staff, to go with the theme and would understandably want their menu printed on thick, brown paper. On the other hand, a local, quirky ice cream parlor would use popping bright colors consistent to the place’s atmosphere.
Although a menu can be edited and customized, they can be printed in these standard sizes:
Confectionery is a broad term which refers to any sugar-manufactured sweet product. People also equate it to candy but confectionery is essentially a sugar-based or chocolate-based snack food.
Sugar helps the absorption of tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that is sometimes referred to as the happy chemical because it contributes to one’s well-being and happiness. If something is weighing you down, eating something light and sweet can boost your mood.
The concept of serving dessert after a course meal is fairly recent in some continents such as Africa and Asia because these places view desserts as products of Western colonialism, making them relatively foreign. But “foreign” when it comes to food, is also a matter of language and culture. Like the best desserts with recipes hailing from pretty far-off lands, it’s better to blend your menu with treats that appeal to broad tastes.