Red velvet, pumpkin caramel, molten lava. If it sounds like the dessert menu of your favorite restaurant, think again. These indulgent flavors can be found right in the baking aisle of your local food retailer.
Among the restaurant-style baking mixes: Triple Chocolate Decadent Cake Mix from Duncan Hines, Chocolate Molten Lava Decadent Supreme cake from Betty Crocker and Fudge Truffle Supreme cake from Pillsbury.
Such flavors are a common addition to restaurant menus. Chocolate hazelnut, for instance, is featured on 33% more restaurant menus in 2012 vs. 2011; red velvet, 40% more, S’mores, 33% more and pumpkin pie, 27%, according to Datassential, Los Angeles, which tracks menu trends in U.S. chain and independent restaurants.
The extension of such flavors into the home baking side of the business makes sense at a time when baking at home is popular. Nearly seven out of 10 consumers (68%) bake at home one time per month or more, according to research firm Mintel. Of these, 38% bake at least once per week and another 5% are daily bakers.
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While many of these consumers bake from scratch, plenty replicate the restaurant experience at home using boxed mixes for all or at least part of their recipes.
“Bakers can simply pick up a box of our Triple Chocolate Decadent Cake Mix or our Lemon Supreme Cake Mix and enjoy an indulgent dessert in the comfort of their homes,” said Stefan Aps, director of marketing for Duncan Hines.
Triple Chocolate is part of Duncan Hines’ line of Supreme and Decadent cake mixes. Another flavor is Decadent Red Velvet Cupcake, which comes complete with cream cheese frosting mix and a pastry bag to “fill and frost the cupcakes like a pro,” said Aps.
Another way Duncan Hines lets consumers enjoy the restaurant experience at home is with its Duncan Hines “Frosting Creations,” which are cans of plain frosting that can be customized by mixing in one of a variety of flavors.
“Frosting Creations lets bakers create the decadent flavors they may have tasted at their favorite restaurant, and replicate it at home during their baking adventures,” said Aps. “This freedom allows consumers to think out of the box when baking.”
Frosting Creations was developed, in part, based on consumer research that found bakers wanted to get more creative in the kitchen, according to Aps.
Frosting Creations caters to customers who want to create treats that taste like they were made from scratch, but in half the time, he said.
“Everyday it seems we’re all busier and busier, and home bakers are no exception,” said Aps. “That was one of the reasons we developed Frosting Creations — to help home bakers achieve those gourmet frosting flavors they craved quickly and simply.”
Frosting Creations is available in hip flavors chocolate marshmallow and cinnamon roll.
“Giving our customers the ability to create gourmet desserts easily at home has been a priority at Duncan Hines, and these creations are definitely inspired by the trends we’ve seen in the baking world,” said Aps.
Betty Crocker Creates Gourmet Cakes
Betty Crocker is equally involved in the restaurant trend, according to Susan Klobuchar, marketing manager for Betty Crocker Kitchens.
“When consumers experience a macaroon or a cake pop at a restaurant or in a bakery, they are often inspired to want to try to replicate that idea at home,” she explained.
Enter Betty Crocker’s “Decadent Supreme” line, which comes in chocolate molten lava, chocolate mousse and cinnamon swirl.
In addition, Betty Crocker has created recipes for plenty of other gourmet desserts. Recognizing that food trends like craft beer are also influencing restaurant desserts as well as baking at home, Betty Crocker created a recipe for chocolate stout cake — made with flour or cake mix and stout beer.
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Trends beyond food are also influencing the baking, with the ombre fashion trend translating to cakes decorated with graduated shades of the same color.
“Ombre layer cakes are cropping up everywhere, including all over Pinterest,” she said.
Licensing and co-branding is another way that Betty Crocker has added excitement to the world of home bakers. Take Cinnamon Crunch, Reese’s Puffs and Cocoa Crunch whole-grain muffin mixes.
“Such partnerships allow companies to combine equities and branded ingredients that can enhance a product with familiar brands rather than generic ones, that consumers feel good about,” said Klobuchar.
Meanwhile, Betty Crocker caters to moms who love baking with their kids, but don’t love the effort and mess that goes along with it.
“We know that parents like to involve their kids in their daily activities including cooking and baking, especially if there is an easy way for them to feel like they’re helping,” she said. “So when moms think of fun activities to do with their kids we want them to think about Shake-N-Pour desserts.”
Shake-N-Pour cookie, brownie and cake mixes come in a jug prefilled with all the necessary ingredients except water. When water is added to the jug, the mix can be simply poured into the baking tray.
“Having everything available in one package provides that convenience so consumers can have more time to spend with family,” said Klobuchar.
Sidebar: Brownies Fit for a Celiac
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Included in Wegmans Food Markets ’ new private-label line of gluten-free foods are vanilla cake, sugar cookie and double chocolate brownie mixes.
The new items come at a time when retailers are increasingly catering to those with gluten-intolerance.
Wegmans’ gluten-free section, for instance, has grown from a 12-foot section to several aisles in the Nature’s Marketplace department of its stores.
While Wegmans’ new gluten-free line includes pasta, bread, soup and other foods, the retailer made sure it didn’t forget dessert.
Patty Fowler, one of Wegmans’ artisan bakers, worked for nearly a year testing different recipes.
“My vision of what the brownies should be was dark and decadent — like the best brownies you ever had,” Fowler said in a statement.
National-brand marketers also have jumped on the gluten-free dessert trend. In 2009, General Mills introduced Betty Crocker gluten-free dessert mixes, a line of gluten-free baking mixes for brownies, cookies, yellow cake and devil’s food cake.
“It is a great opportunity for General Mills, since many gluten-free consumers have struggled to find baked good options that will work for them,” Susan Klobuchar, marketing manager, Betty Crocker Kitchens, told SN.
Sidebar: Home for the Holidays
Home bakers looking to make caramel apple pie cakes, pumpkin chip brownies or other holiday treats have some added help now that Duncan Hines has released limited-edition seasonal icings.
Four seasonal flavors — Apple Pie, Pumpkin Spice, Peppermint Stick and Gingerbread — will be available for a limited time to help celebrate the holidays.
“Our limited-edition Duncan Hines Frosting Creations flavors exude the essence of holiday, reminding us of fall apple picking and the magic of the winter holidays that makes us all feel like kids again,” Joe DiPaolo, corporate pastry chef for Duncan Hines, said in a statement.
In addition to the four new holiday flavors, the line includes 12 other flavors, like Mint Chocolate, Cotton Candy and White Chocolate Raspberry.
Read more: Sweet Valentine: The Red Velvet Revolution 
Betty Crocker, meanwhile, has a variety of holiday treats on the market as well. For the fall, it introduced pumpkin bars and pumpkin spice cookies, Halloween orange-frosted brownies and fall frosting.
For the holidays, it will roll out hot chocolate cupcakes with marshmallows and a fluffy white frosting mix. Other seasonal offerings include snickerdoodle, gingerbread and mint chocolate chip cookie mixes.
In mid-November, Betty Crocker will release its annual “Red Hot Holiday Trends” list at www.bettycrocker/redhot . Each trend features a baking idea that can be recreated at home. Last holiday season, trends included “Double Desserts,” including a Pumpkin Pie Cookie.
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