While indulgent comfort foods remain top sellers, restaurants — even those specializing in desserts — have seen more customers order better-for-you fare.
Lighter desserts are starting to gain traction, said president and chief executive Jonathan Fornaci of Rita’s Italian Ice, a chain that has moved to make more lighter fare available.
Sugar Free Mango Peach is now one of the top five flavors at the 650-unit chain, which specializes in housemade ices and frozen custard. Sugar-free items have been an option for Rita’s franchisees for about five years, Fornaci said, but he now mandates that each unit always offer a sugar-free flavor.
The chain is also testing a light custard, with one-third the fat content of their regular custard, as well as a dairy-free gelato made with coconut milk, he added.
“All it has is coconut milk, fresh fruit, sugar and a little vanilla,” he said.
“We’re also launching a Greek frozen yogurt, which obviously has a lot less calories than custard,” he added. The yogurt has about 150 calories per serving.
Meanwhile, Baskin-Robbins is expanding its BRight Choices lineup this summer with new light ice creams, no-sugar-added desserts and frozen yogurt. The 7,000-unit chain first introduced BRight Choices in 2009.
The new flavors include:
• Toasted Marshmallow Chip: Marshmallow-flavored ice cream with a chocolate and marshmallow ribbon and chocolate chips. The item is part of the Premium Churned Light line, which has 50 percent less fat and 20 percent fewer calories than Baskin-Robbins’ regular ice cream.
• Pineapple Coconut: A no-sugar-added dessert of coconut-flavored ice cream with chunks of pineapple.
• Maui Brownie Madness: Chocolate frozen yogurt with chunks of brownie, macadamia nuts and chocolate fudge ribbons.
• Lemonade Iced Tea: A sorbet combining two summertime favorites.
• Watermelon Chip: A watermelon-flavored ice with chocolate “seeds.”