With the end of the year comes the joy (mostly) of looking ahead to the anticipated food trends of 2016.
From Geoff Williams, who writes about the business of food for Forbes magazine
Cake pops endure, now a staple in the dessert world and in bakeries.
Eclairs gain in popularity as a neutral pastry that can encase both sweet and savory fillings.
Kouign-Amann, pronounced "queen uhmahn," a buttery French pastry made from a laminated dough layered with sugar that caramelizes as it bakes, so it's like a crunchier, sweeter croissant.
Shortbread, linked to the growing popularity of tea shops, a time-honored pairing. Also can do double duty as a sweet or savory treat.
Smaller desserts that are still decadent, signaling a semi-shift away from the slab of chocolate layer cake.
Liquor-themed desserts that look to small-batch beers such as stout coming into play. Also, bourbon is big.
Gluten-free and vegan desserts. Think: chocolate pudding made with avocados; pumpkin seed coconut bars, or kale ice cream.
From Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR and noted trendspotter
Less cooking — or less skill "to put a meal together properly." She notes time pressure, tiredness, decline in cooking skills and the easy availability of alternatives, quoting one editor who said: "The reason my wife and I don't cook our food is the same reason that we don't hunt our food. These skills are no longer required to sidestep starvation." Well, sure, but. …
Concurrently, more meals from warming up ready-to-eat entrees or using precooked ingredients. "Cooking 21st-century style is increasingly about selecting and assembling ingredients into meals, rather than preparing everything from scratch."
From the Specialty Food Association
Vegetables will crop up more in teas, yogurts and ice cream. "Seaweed is set to soar."
More floral notes in chocolate, cheese, snack foods, carbonated water and teas.
The humble mushroom combines several trends — vegetables, umami and foraging.
Once forbidden full-fat products are back in style, from milk to butter to red meat.
High-end convenience foods: Food retailers are trying to lure in consumers "who are looking for the best in their food and willing to pay."
Supermarkets tout themselves as wellness centers with dietitians on staff, blood sugar testing and nutrition classes.
Inspired by renewed relations with Cuba, Latin American cuisine is hot, hot, hot.
The next superfood: moringa (we never heard of it, either.) The tropical plant produces bitter leaves that taste like horseradish, but are high in "calcium, iron, vitamin C and antioxidants with a nutritional profile that rivals milk and eggs." In other words, the new smoothie ingredient.
The new kale: broccoli leaves.
Latest alternative grain: millet.
From McCormick spice blends Flavor Forecast
Adding Matcha green tea, flaxseed, chia seed, turmeric to your spice blends.
The heat of chiles and sambal sauce pair the tang of lime, rice vinegar, yuzu, tamarind, Meyer lemon, cranberry, kumquats and ponzu.
Season with ancestral flavors such as thyme, peppermint, parsley, lavender and rosemary. Explore amaranth, an Aztec grain with a nutty, earthy flavor, or cooking with mezcal, a smoky Mexican liquor made from the agave plant.
Pinoy BBQ, a popular Filipino street food flavored with soy sauce, lemon, garlic, sugar, pepper and banana ketchup (mashed banana, sugar, vinegar, and spices), and Rendang curry, a Malaysian spice paste with mild heat made from chilies, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, tamarind, coriander and turmeric.
Look for libations using culinary techniques such as pickling to combine tart with spice; roasting to achieve richer flavors, and brûléeing with caramelized sugar for deeper flavors.