Oct 14, 2019 Last Updated 6:31 AM, Nov 9, 2017

Material Handling: Super Powered Desserts

In this issue, Julie and Jimmy MacMillan explore super powered desserts.


Although much has been written in recent years about ‘Superfoods’, simply put, they are foods that are nutritionally dense and are beneficial for maintaining good health. It may seem like these foods are at odds with sweet kitchen desserts, but the professional pastry chef has great use for ingredients like yumberry, maca powder, goji berries, Forbidden rice, chia and flax seeds.

There are three main reasons we use these foods: they taste good and are interesting to the chef for recipe creation, their use can be important marketing appeal for certain customers (chocolate, for example) and because they are nutrient rich foods that make us feel good about our dessert choices.

Although many sweet kitchens already use some ‘superfoods’, many of the more interesting ingredients can be hard to source or incorporate into a fantastic menu item. There are far too many to cover here, but we’ve included those that have become commonplace in our cooking.

Jimmy MacMillan's Kid's Cereal Bowl. An adult take on the experience of eating a bowl of kid’s cereal with yumberry. Photo by Julie MacMillan. Click image above or link below for recipe.

In this month’s Material Handling we bring you ‘Kid’s Cereal Bowl’, a composed dessert that is conceptual, utilizing yumberry and antioxidant rich berries. We also introduce ‘Mighty Maca Cacao Bites’, a pleasant confection that can be served at the end of a meal or consumed on breaks during the day.

There are superfoods that we use every day in pastry (and are well documented) and should be noted when we discuss their use on the menus: dark chocolate (which is rich in polyphenols, a group of protective antioxidants), cinnamon (which is a source of calcium, magnesium and iron and has many health benefits), and walnuts that are a good source of Omega 3 & 6. Using raw cacao powder has a true chocolate flavor and is also antioxidant rich.

We were exposed to some superfood ingredients while working at the Chinese owned Peninsula Chicago. Goji berries, one of the highest sources of antioxidants, found their way into chocolate bars. Black rice, aka ‘Forbidden rice’, has a large amount of the antioxidant anthocyanin and is a good source of iron. We offered this as coconut rice pudding served with jack fruit ice cream and fresh exotic fruit. While there we compiled a collection of tea-flavored desserts for the Naturally Peninsula: Tea Flavors cookbook. We have been cooking with antioxidant rich rooibos, green and black teas ever since.

Two superfoods that we are using as application ingredients are chia seeds (black and white varieties) and flax seeds as binding agents and egg replacers. We use 14 grams ground seed mixed with 42 grams of water to replace one egg. Let the mixture rest to thicken for 5 minutes before adding to the recipe.

Julie MacMillan's Mighty Maca Cacao Bites. They are perfect for diners respecting their New Year’s resolutions. Photo by Julie MacMillan. Click image above or link below for recipe.

Maca is one of the world’s most nutritionally dense foods. It contains nearly all essential amino acids and free fatty acids, significant levels of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C, and minerals iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium, a high concentration of bio-available protein. Maca can be red, black or yellow, each with different flavor appeal. For more information on maca, visit The Maca Team website (www.themacateam.com). For the Maca Bites recipe, Julie uses red maca which has a nice caramel flavor profile. We roll Maca Bites coconut or cut into small bars or squares and gift like a candy bar.

Yumberry is rich in antioxidants and contains many vitamins including vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, and carotene. It has a beautiful red color and a very tart flavor profile. Best paired with fruit flavors like cherry, blueberry or pomegranate to offset the tartness, we also favor yumberry in a creamy preparations like custard, mousse or anglaise.

Step 1 maca balls packed with super food ingredients. Photo by Julie MacMillan.
Step 2 maca balls blended. Photo by Julie MacMillan.

On our current menu is the Kid’s Cereal Bowl. It is reminiscent of when Jimmy was a young child waking at 4 a.m. and eating cold cereal until the rest of the house woke up to open Christmas presents. We cast a yumberry buttermilk panna cotta, add cereal ‘crunchies’ like meringues dusted with a mix of strawberry and yumberry powder and freeze-dried Maine blueberries. The bowl is garnished with micro lemongrass blades (which Jimmy swears taste like fruit loops) and white chocolate garnish which adds sweetness. For the ‘milk’, a cold, thin vanilla bean anglaise is added. This is definitely an adult take on the experience of eating a bowl of kid’s cereal.

Increasingly, guests are looking for desserts that are not ‘sugar bombs’ that can be nutritionally dense and beneficial to a healthy life style. When the indulgence of the holiday is nearly over and the beginning of a healthier new year is on most people’s minds, these recipes will be suitable offerings for our patrons who often give up desserts for a number of weeks.


Find 'Material Handling: Super Powered Desserts' recipes in the DessertProfessional.com Recipe section or click the links below.


Jimmy & Julie MacMillan of JMPurePastry
Jimmy & Julie MacMillan of JMPurePastry. Photo by Anthony Tahlier.

Any trends or inspirations you’d like to see in the Material Handling spotlight? Email Jimmy and Julie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

JMPurePastry is a Chicago-based pastry solutions group specializing in high quality, well designed media products for the restaurant, baking and hospitality industry. The duo is also responsible for the multiple Emmy® Award-winning Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition video series. For more information, visit: www.JMPurePastry.com.

Tasty Food Photography eBook

Most Read Articles

Find Us on Facebook

Freshly Frozen

Chocolate Bites

Pastry Talk

Tasty Food Photography eBook